Kenya’s legendary rock band “Murfy’s fLaw” returned with their third album since their formation in 2007. In between the enveloping keyboard overtures and charming choruses, there is much of the old wine of their debut album Makosa. Yet as much as they dig deeper for their roots, Murfy’s presents us with new heralds to accompany our forages into the future of this scene. This is our review of Murfy’s fLaw’s homage to 12 years of rock music.
Nataka Sitaki was produced by Marko Silvestri. This fellow has worked with rock bands in Italy and before coming to Kenya to join Homeboyz productions. It is an 11 track album that comes with a digital release, customised merchandise like guitar picks and a retro cassette type USB. You can buy the album and its merchandise on Jumia.
A review of Nairobi’s greatest rock band would take more than several looks. Their third album NatakaSitaki is released on the back of two stellar albums. This group of six released their first album Makosa in 2008 and later scorch the earth in 2011 with Hello Light.
Reports suggest that their sophomore album sold more than 3000 copies. I received my copy of “Hello Light” from Nambari Tisa in 2013. When listening to Nataka Sitaki it is evident that it borrows much from their heritage in Hello Light and Makosa.
For that reason, it emerges that the best path to unlocking this album would be to revisit the first two. From a first listen there were songs that immediately stuck out. These are Mviringo, Steal A Beat, The Right Now and Dare Me. Those four songs stuck out to me because I’ve had the benefit of listening to them before. Dare Me is my favourite from the album but that might change in the future once the album has really sunk in.
But the sense of familiarity went much deeper for me than that. That was in no little measure to be attributed to something that I’ve always loved from Murfy’s fLaw. That happens to be the dark overtones in songs like Raindrops, Dare Me and Mviringo. This is part of the band’s long-held tradition that evokes goth aesthetics with Reema having employed growls previously in the song called “In Silence”. However, the real butter that solidifies this darkened almost voodoo style is Jojo’s keyboard work which is heavily present in their new album.
However, as much as the band made these stark features the centre piece of their music, they have also made sure that every song carries a glimmer of light. True to their name where it is expected for things to go wrong, like the Stoics of old they resolve to rally against the terrors of life with a determination that is unyielding.
Murfy’s fLaw has also continued to use multiple voices in their music. One thing that made their first album Makosa was the diversity in writing and I much enjoyed the songs that were written by Punky and Jojo. Hello Light made heavy use of N9ine’s contribution as well. In NatakaSitaki Reema’s voice radiates through many of these pieces but they rely as well upon the haunting vocals of Jojo and Jozie as well as Nine9’s capable rap soliloquy’s. The result is something that evokes a voodooish sensibility that is at once unsettling and also liberating.
In the midst of soaring guitars are also basslines that cement the ritual experience that is Murfy’s fLaw. Further on one might find the ever-present dilemma’s of romantic love and cultural diversity. The unrequited are constrained to remark “Zindagi”. But they might as well find a resolution in choosing, despite the uncertainty to focus on “the right now”.
Murfy’s fLaw’s cultural diversity is still felt in this album with songs written in Hindi as well as in Swahili and English. NatakaSitaki is therefore a return to the band’s roots, something that is quite evident in their love for the caricatured album art which is all done in-house. But even though the album sounds oddly familiar, the traditions remain pure and vibrant like wine in new wine skins.
But above all else what remains a constant is the band’s love for rock music. If Abso-bloomin-lutely didnt show enough of that then Steal A beat definitely will.