Pulo NDJ found its inspiration in N’Djamena’s un-narrated diversity and set out to explore the possibilities offered by technology to demonstrate how the country’s rich heritage connects with existing musical conversations.
Chad is in many ways a blind spot on the map of today’s global musical conversation. Overlooked, misunderstood and misrepresented, outside observers rarely concede the country an autonomous voice over its past, present or future. Its capital, N’Djamena, with its well-kept stories of boundary-breaking musical collaborations and thirst for experimentation, is a city that reflects the country’s diversity. The North of Chad is arid, bordering the Sahara, where nomadic tribes revere the endless desert with their handcrafted instruments; the South is lush and tropical, where the frenetic drumming of local initiation ceremonies blend with sounds of neighboring Congo and Cameroon. In the middle of all this sits N’Djamena, a forgotten melting pot of cultures and peoples bursting with unrecorded stories of life at the margins of the world’s attention.
Pulo NDJ’s debut album, Desert To Douala is bursting with hopeful, life-affirming songs documenting the human experience in this overlooked corner of the world: Dabadji Am Alcorama and Cera Cera are two songs built around the sound of the garaya, a traditional string instrument used by the shepherds of the region on their crossings of the desert. Mbaoundaye and Bazaka are reminiscent of Southern Chad’s traditional ceremonies with their hypnotic balafon and tam-tam patterns and ancestral chants. Sanga finds its origins in rhythms used in Cameroonian wedding parties and blending it with Soukuss and Congolese rumba, while Taroum brings a West African afrobeat flavor to the game. Kewolea takes its inspiration from Togo, a marvelous song about man’s respect for its own work. While Un Jour, an uplifting rap-song (in French) based on a garaya loop & features MC FTP (Funk the People) discussing issues of class and skin color felt in Chad and around the World. Clandomanis a song of praise to the ubiquitous moto-taxi drivers, the real kings of the roads of the Sahel.