Somalia nostalgia from the Iftin Band

Released November 18, Best of Mogadishu: Al-Uruba Sessions is a curation of some of the best work by 1980s Somali band Iftin Band.

In the 80s, in the heart of the Somali capital, there is a group that attracts all audiences. Everywhere, from private parties in luxury hotels to public theatres, every music lover living in or visiting Mogadishu wants to hear the band Iftin live. The band quickly established a reputation for their eclectic, forward-thinking sound. Vocally, through strings, winds and percussion, the band combines their Somali roots of funk and dhaanto with American jazz, Nigerian afrobeats and Kenyan benga. This ability to transcend genres and listeners owes Iftin Band a place of choice in the prestigious evenings of the Al-Uruba hotel. And in the hotel’s secret studio, from 1982 to 1987, Iftin Band recorded the songs now compiled into a one-of-a-kind album.

Best of Mogadishu: Al-Uruba Sessions is the result of seven years of research and digitization, led by Ostinato Records founder Vik Sohonie and researcher Nicolas Sheikholeslami. At the start of the civil war in Somalia in the 1990s, the original recordings left Al-Uruba’s studio. The tapes have traveled all over Africa, from Nairobi to Djibouti and Dubai, and even to Europe. The compilation of Iftin Band’s work is an exceptional opportunity to rediscover one of the most important periods in the history of Somali music.

The 13 titles of The best of Mogadishu are tales, fables and poems, mostly about love: obsession (“Wiilkii Aan Ku Waashee”), passion (“Sig Sig Nima”) and grief (“Kurbo Jaceyl”). Each song is a valuable window into the past and a glimpse into the daily life of Iftin Band’s contemporaries. Best of Mogadishu: Al-Uruba Sessions releases November 18.

Listen to “Umaayey Iyo Abo” in our Songs of the Week playlist.

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