nyone who maintains that rock music has lost its political edge would be advised to check out *Nommo*, an album that balances passion with deft musical dexterity and still never loses sight of twin goals: education and entertainment.
_Nommo_, the album makes clear, is a process. A quote from the black radical philosopher Angela Davis explains it succinctly. In West African traditions, to name things – the _nommo_ of the title – is a way to gain power, to begin to assert control over life. For Slovo, a band created by former Faithless guitarist Dave Randell, the _nommo_ is a way of manipulating sound material – the album weaves a subtle fabric of rap, ambient samples taken from Gaza City, NYC and elsewhere with gently focused guitar work – to political ends.
Want to know how many countries the US has bombed since 1945? ‘21 Today’ is a musical list using the most simple tactic: human voices. ‘Saaba’ – from the Arabic word for ‘hard’– juxtaposes the voice of an elderly Palestinian with street sounds and quiet, emphatic music. The sudden _segué_ into ‘Frank & Harry’ with its samples of shopping-channel promises (‘magic every time’) is a brutal reminder that mass entertainment would rather not be reminded of discrimination, poverty, loss.
These images are meant to shock, but there’s hope. Quiet songs – one using Woody Guthrie’s poem ‘Voice’ in both Kurdish and English – never lose sight of this. An album that takes global music to address what’s happening on the globe? That’s real progress.