Six years on from “Statements”, Batagraf’s ECM debut, the collective returns with transformed personnel but unchanged priorities. Drumming as language and language harnessed as music: both aspects remain important for this “percussion think-tank” of Norwegian origin, thoroughly international in its aspirations. Hand drum grooves and words are interwoven here. “Drumming is speaking and language is a miracle, in all its manifestations” says Jon Balke
Inspirations include the Bata drums of Yoruba culture, present in both Nigerian and Cuban music. Batagraf also reference the Wolof culture of Senegal and Gambia and the drums pattern of Arabic music. “Say And Play” draws upon the inner energy and creativity of these cultures.
Drums are at the centre of the music here, sending out their messages amid the swirl of electronic keyboards. Clouds of sound-colour, lifted up by taut drums.
The core of the band, in its current incarnation, comprises Jon Balke and Helge Andreas Norbakken. Balke, author of most of the pieces here, stresses that “all the percussion layers and the final development of the music have been very much a collaboration.”