Sahara is my 3rd solo album, and it brings together elements of Afrobeat, Malian Blues and traditional West African musics with those of electronica, Western minimalism and experimental pop. It continues the exploration begun on my previous album Arrival City, and further evolves my lifelong interest in African musics which for me have always been unparalleled in their beauty and musical sophistication. My idea has been to try and develop a new musical landscape, located somewhere between the music of Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Touré, Rokia Traoré, Steve Reich, Björk and Brian Eno.
The album features vocals by Noel Saizonou of Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble (Cotonou Phase, Long Now), Ulpu (Cycles) as well as more abstract vocal contributions from Diana Bada, Sade Aboderin and Riikka Theresa Innanen; Adjanohun Loetamini and Moritz Cartheuser on guitars; Adama Koné on balafon and kora; Georges Agbazahou and Franck Koumolou on percussion. The cover art and design is by Ali Akbar Mehta.
The album has been developed and recorded in various locations, spaces and studios in Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal) and Europe (Finland, Germany, Italy and Spain), between 2013 and 2016. It is available digitally on all the major download and streaming services worldwide.
A note on the title:
The album isn’t really about the geographic region called Sahara, although it’s been inspired by my two flights over the desert: on my first trip from Madrid to Dakar I became tantalized by a “neon orange” moon and the gradually appearing Milky Way, shimmering above a vast darkness that was the Sahara desert; my second trip, from Paris to Cotonou, took me across the desert on a broad daylight, during which I kept staring at the incredibly varied landscape down below for the entirety of the journey. Needles to say, both those experiences fulfilled the fascination and imagination I’d had towards Sahara (and the world in general) since I was a child. ’Sahara’ is more about those other qualities that the idea of the desert might present: an unfamiliar land prone to imagination, a possible world or another landscape; a borderless space with a deeper sense of time and a greater horizon; a world of contemplation, surrender, an active discovery perhaps.
Geographically the music is closer to the West African savannas: it’s my travels across the landscapes of Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal (and the most incredible music I kept hearing during those journeys) that have inspired the direction of this album most.
Written and mixed by Ilpo Jauhiainen
Adja – written by Ilpo Jauhiainen and Adjanohun Loetamini
Cotonou Phase & Long Now – written by Ilpo Jauhiainen and Noël Saïzonou
Produced by Ilpo Jauhiainen
Mastered by Niklas Silen
Cover art, design and typography by Ali Akbar Mehta
Released July 14, 2016