By Sura Susso Media Team
Tili Saba comes nearly a decade after his debut album, Sila Kang. Whereas Sila Kang documented a personal journey, Tili Saba was created with community and cohesion in mind. It is therefore by no accident that the album was produced with contributions from many amazing musicians and other creatives both in The Gambia and The UK.
Tili Saba carries the listener on a journey across periods and settings, immersing them in the warm and uplifting sounds of Gambian music. Nyancho, an upbeat, multilayered rearrangement of an antique traditional composition was, amongst others, recorded with some of the best Gambian instrumentalists, including Kebba Taylor on the bass guitar and Yusupha Suso on the balafon. Recorded between The Gambia and The UK, the album includes contributions from Sura’s brilliant brother Suntou Susso as percussionist (Suntou is also a kora player) and the golden voice of his sister, Binta Suso, as backing vocalist.
The song Molu explores modern Gambian sounds, blending digitally produced beats with the Kora, the Sabar and the Tama. On this track, Sura worked with one of Gambia’s top producers, Jlive Music. Molu was released as a single on 31st December 2020 and still enjoys extensive airplay on Gambian radios.
Sura Susso is long known for experimenting with differing genres, which has led him to perform and record in a number of interesting cross-cultural settings, including collaborations with the great British-German violinist Maximilian Baillie, Chinese erhu player Ling Peng and French jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz. In this new album, Sura collaborates with his longtime friend and fellow musician, the talented multi-instrumentalist Pete Josef to create 2 magnificent and mesmerising instrumental pieces (kora & piano), Sabally (track 2) and Makki (track 8). The two artistes are already talking about making a full album together.
One of the highlights of the album is the song Kata Keh. It is the only solo piece in the album. The soulful strings of the kora and Sura’s lone, melancholic voice allows a thorough appreciation of his talents as a singer, songwriter and kora player.
Tili Saba means three days in Mandinka. The expression comes from an old adage which says, ‘The world is made up of three days, yesterday, today and tomorrow.’ The expression symbolizes the transition of time and carries wisdom rooted in recognition of the transient nature of the world. For Sura, Tili Saba embodies this expression—it explores the past, draws inspiration from the present and contemplates the future through the Kora and its journey across centuries.