Sunday, January 20, 2013

CD Review: Norman's 'Eygi Sani'

Eygi Sani (My Own Thing)

Norman | Eygi Sani

Norman van Geerke, aptly-known as Norman, is from the northern coast of South America in a small country called the Republic of Suriname.  Suriname’s Dutch ancestry is evidenced in Norman’s music with all eleven tracks in Sranan, which is a Creole language created from English, Dutch, Portuguese, and West African sources.  The new album, Eygi Sani (My Own Thing), attempts to mark a solo journey into the heart of Suriname’s contemporary music, which is surprisingly up-tempo, jazz-driven, and soulful.  Norman’s time in The Netherlands and current residence in Ireland further solidifies the multi-dimensional and cross-cultural musical attributes of the music. "Na Wi Dey” opens with a party-like atmosphere, punchy percussion, urban brass, and a rumba-like rhythm with Norman’s commanding vocals leading the band.  This is one of the most energetic tunes on the album with lively South American jazz instrumentation leading the party. The piano, drums, bass, guitar, sax, and trumpet lead the instrumental arrangements with a solid performance of Surinamese jazz. “San Mi Kan Du” opens with a few pensive piano notes and Norman’s ballad-esque intro with some light guitar accompaniment.  The bass and symphonic background noise suggests an almost classical rendition.  The classical background is punctuated by Norman’s heartfelt vocals and up-beat percussion and background vocals.  The catchy chorus and symphonic musical arrangements are somewhat representative of European ballads, but in a purely South American style.  The acoustic guitar is a bit jazzy in parts, but the vocals reflect a slight pop presence. “Opo Yu Ay” begins with light percussion and synth sounds with a rollicking melody and fanciful guitar accompaniment.  Norman’s vocals and some of the music are similar to William Dunker with some comparisons to Wallonian music from France or Belgium.  The up-beat drums, guitars, and pop arrangements contain a bit of edgy rock rhythms without venturing too far into the rock world. “No Las Ten” opens with chimes and an urbanized, electronic vocal set with some swishy percussion and a contemporary pattering of percussive sounds that are interspersed between piano notes and sultry sputtering of trumpet.  The seemingly danceable tune contains an inherent ballad edge with a side of savory night-club lounge ambiance.  The modern tune is sultry, jazzy, edgy, and South American. “Masra” starts with flowing ocean waves, symphonic synth washes, pensive piano notes, and a free-flowing sax.  The opening vocals are spoken in a very poetic manner.  The percussion begins after the spoken introduction, but it is relatively rudimentary and almost avant-garde in its approach.  Norman is joined by back-up singers throughout and the entire song features a joyful jazz vein that is extremely pleasant, but not as fluid as many of the other songs on the album. The angelic background vocal from the opening is also present at the end of the song, as the majestic spoken word by Eddy Bruma finishes the song in style. Norman van Geerke’s new album, Eygi Sani, is a mix of contemporary Surinamese music with European and North American jazz, soul, and lounge leanings.  The eleven tracks are long and varied, but always enthralling.  The upbeat music is very emotive and catchy.  There are no shortfalls or pitfalls on this one.  It seems every track evokes imaginative melodies that yearn to be repeated with each listen.  At its heart, Eygi Sani is the center of contemporary Surinamese music via The Netherlands, Ireland, and everywhere in-between.  Fans of Suriname jazz, Dutch music, Wallonian music, world jazz, and world fusion will love Eygi Sani’s multi-faceted musical layers of ear candy goodness. 


Review by Matthew Forss

Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)

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