This album is a mixture of rhythmical songs that are influenced by West African melodies and Nils Kercher´s own compositions. His own compositions often have a powerful but subtle backing rhythm combined with melody instruments like kora, cello and violine. Most of them develop into a multilayered choir, that feels like a mixture of mantras, gregorian chants and tribal ritual.
All the pieces are skillfully arranged and the sounds and vocals merge almost unnoticesably from one to another. The strong West African influence is not an adoption of a “foreign” influence but becomes part of a creative process of a multitalented musician. The songs are sung in Soussou or Malinke, two West African languages, or Finnish - sometimes in a language before words existed.
“Sacred Forest” is a piece where the basic rhythm played by carved wood trunks from the rainforest carries a harmonious choral-like tapestry of male and female voices. “Ah-Ye” combines a traditional rhythm - doun doun ba - still danced in remote Guinean villages, with South African kalimba, open vocals and the melodic classical sounds of cello, violine and flute. In “Inike” you can hear the transparency of the West African harp (kora) with just Nils Kercher´s beautiful voice. “Allahlahke” dances away with kora, percussion and a catchy, groovy melody. “I siga fe minden?” starts with the joyous voices of children greeting in Soussou: “foate!” (“white man!”).
The whole album has an organic but soothing quality to it and the combination of different styles forms here something new, harmonious and consistent in itself. There is a timeless depth to this music.
Printed on 100% recycled paper
Nils Kercher (Germany): composition, kora, vocals, balafon, percussion, flute, violin
Kira Kaipainen (Finland): vocals
Malgosia Wosinska (Poland): vocals
Anne Meyer-Seeßelberg (Germany): vocals, flute
Thomas Steudel (Germany): violoncello
Antonia Brunnert (Germany/USA): violin
Thomas Christaller and Ed Winkler (Germany) background vocals
recorded & mixed at: Inline Studios, Duesseldorf, sound engineer: Said Suma
mastered at: Acoustic Entertainment, Cologne, sound engineer: Radu Marinescu
graphic design: Matt Strieby, Newleaf Design, USA
“To me the essence behind traditional African music, as well as all original music, is to be a gateway to an inner world.
It´s in me to follow this impulse. During concerts and workshops I wish to share this extraordinary and at the same time very simple way of mutual listening and communication. This ancient source does not belong to anyone in particular: both audience and musicians can dive freshly into it and be vitalized by it. Since the real tribal people as well as their music have nearly been eradicated from this planet, maybe something like this can be the continuation of their timeless wisdom - not as conserving (and thereby making it something dead) but as a fresh discovery and exploration of the new, rooted in that spirit of serving the whole. This can eliminate some of the inner isolation our modern civilization seems to bring with it”(N.K)
Coming from a background of classical music in his childhood, Nils studied the traditional music during several stays in West Africa. He was profoundly inspired by the deeply ingrained musicality amongst the ordinary people.
In Guinea he had the opportunuity to study with several internationally renowned masters of traditional instruments and vocals such as Fodé Kalissa (kora / National Ballet Guinea), Ba Cissoko (kora / vocals) Alseny Camara (djembe solist Ballet Djoliba), Famoudou Konate and family (National Ballet Guinea) and Koungbana Konde (Percussion de Guinee).
He was always particularly interested in gaining deeper understanding of African mentality and the spiritual essence of African music. This shines through to his life performances where his interactive compositions with the audience create an atmosphere of one “village”.
Since 1992 he gives concerts and workshops. For his ANCIENT INTIMATIONS CD-release tour Nils has brought together musicians coming from different backgrounds,such as Kira Kaipainen - vocals, percussion, balafon, dance (Finnland, working with Nils since 1999), Sylvia Laubé - vocals, dance, percussion (France/Caribbean, previously touring with Malian singer Rokia Traore, South African singer Sam Tshabalala and Angelique Kidjo), Thomas Steudel - Cello (Germany, Solo album "Indigo" 2002, concerts and recordings with the renown Indian musician Ramesh Shotham), Stephanie Bosch - Bansuri Germany, student of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, solo album 2009) and Samuli Majamäki - Percussion (Finnland, internationally touring since 1995, especially together with Ismo Alanko)
The story of the cover photo:
The instrument shown on the front cover of this album was given to Nils in 2002 by his first kora teacher, Fodé Kalissa, shortly before his sudden death. He was a great master of this 21-stringed harp and had toured the world with the National Ballett of Guinea for more than two decades.
Passing his own and only concert kora on to Nils felt like a deep honour and to him symbolises a sort of legacy and task: serving the ancient spirit of fineness, grace and beauty that shines so tangibly through the transparent sound of this instrument.