Disclosure: ‘Ultimatum’ review

What I Know:
To most, Disclosure will need no introduction. Brothers, Guy and Howard Lawrence are the power behind hits such as Latch, White Noise and You & Me, all from their phenomenally successful 2013 break-through album Settle.

Of less renown to most will be Fatoumata Diawara – a Malian Wassalou (folk) artist, whose album Fenfo (Something to Say) is her first studio release in seven years. Eagle-eared members of this church may know her from performing alongside the likes of Paul McCartney, The Roots and Roberto Fonseca.

What I Like:
Here’s an interesting thing. For a music-loving Millennial such as myself, my earliest associations with Africa were of famine. Almost exclusively. Although Live Aid happened when I was not yet a year old, growing up, those images of children starving were the abiding vision I had of the continent. I watched them on repeat as their VTs played on the old VHS recordings my parents had made, in between performances by all the bands I got into over the years.

It built into me a sort of tacit understanding that Africa was a place of pretty profound sorrow.

And yet, as my knowledge of the world and my musical influences have grown and changed, I have come to foster an entirely different view of Africa, again primarily through its music. What I’ve learnt is that Africa can be a continent of great expressions of joy; that its culture is, more often than not, characterised by its vibrancy, its colour and its charisma; nowhere more so than in its music.

In Africa, music exists, first and foremost as something to dance to – ‘Dance music’ just not in the form in which we in the West define it.

It’s why I’m so delighted to be seeing increasing numbers of ‘dance’ musicians of both definitions working together in what appears to me to be the perfect meeting of two forms; not least of all earlier this year, when I did a review of Sampha’s remix of Oumou Sangaré’s Minata Waraba – a track that bears many of the sonic hallmarks of this one.

There is no doubt that, from my point of view, Fatoumata Diawara steals the show on Ultimatum. Her sampled vocal is so catchy, so full of energy that it dares you not to sing along – who cares if you don’t know the words?

But underneath that, there’s some really slick production going on here, from the syncopated jazz keyboards to the latin percussion.

Its a fantastic omen for Disclosure’s new album which is ‘in production’ as we speak. And for those looking to hear more from Diawara, Fenfo (Something to Say) is released today.

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