Bengatronics squad. [Courtesy]

Many are familiar with the Benga sound; elaborate guitar licks, often too quick to catch, and crisp percussion, which have the feet and hips moving almost of their own volition. Bengatronics have been on the forefront of preserving Kenya’s heritage with the masterly adaptation of traditional dance rhythms played on traditional instruments while maintaining the vibe.

Their new project dubbed Kiunga Fire is yet another clash of folk and pop cultures of Africa. The album is an intense collaboration between Les Bengatronics from Kenya, Ugandan singer, songwriter and visual artiste - Sandra Suubi, and Cheb Runner, an electronic music producer from Morocco currently based in the Netherlands.

Michel Ongaro, a composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist from Kenya appears on most if not all of the tracks on the album. Kiunga Fire is a deeper exploration of the symphony of folk instruments, sounds and musical cultures as they manifest in the urban space.

This project is a first of its kind as it seeks to enhance intercultural and intergenerational dialogue and knowledge exchange, by exploring sampling techniques of the folk and pop instruments from Kenya, Uganda and Morocco.

The entire masterpiece borrows richly on African sounds and has incorporated tens of traditional instruments such as Adungu, l’Mqess, Nzumari, Bongos, Bendir, Benga Guitar, Masinqo, Orutu, Guembri, Tam Tam (Tbilats), Taarija, Tbal and Nakouss just to celebrate the rich diversity of our cultures.

Featured in the album is Ohms Law Montana (Ke), previously part of the first Kiunga album (Mombasa 2019) who returns to collaborate with Mandy (Ke). HaddinQo (Et) also returns with the MasinQo tune but is now in the hands of Cheb Runner (Mor), a co-producer on the album who also meets Ayrosh (Ke) for the first time.

Fresh from the oven is a Kamba serenade from Simply Yaba, the rising star of RhumbaCane, a fresh sound out of Nairobi. Calvo Kali and Missing Rotich bring some Benga flavour from Kenya, while Sandra Suubi releases the Baximba energy from Uganda.