Wednesday December 6th, 2023
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Synthesized Sudan is the New Astro-Nubian Album From Ostinato Records

Emerging from Sudan’s underground, Jantra's music is deeply connected to the rural Sudanese landscape.

Salma Reda

Located in the rural area of Fashaga, near the borders of Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, lies a unique form of dance music known as Jaglara. Despite being relatively obscure, this genre has carved out a devoted niche for itself. Jantra, a musician in Sudan's underground scene, has played a significant role in popularizing Jaglara with his compositions.

Jantra’s name translates to ‘craziness’, which perfectly encapsulates both his personality and the soundscapes he creates. Although relatively unknown outside of Sudan, Jantra has gained a following in his hometown of Gadarif, near the Sudan-Ethiopia border. Armed with his trusty blue Yamaha keyboard, he joins a wave of synthesizer maestros across Africa, revolutionizing the electronic sound of the continent.

Jaglara is an improvisational dance music where Jantra freestyles a combination of melodies for hours on end. Acting as a live producer and DJ, his performances in compact spaces ignite emphatic crowds, reaching a frenzied climax at an astonishing tempo of 155-168 BPM. The energy of his music is known to inspire the occasional gunslinger to raise their pistol in celebration, firing shots into the air as the music reaches its peak.

Jantra's Yamaha keyboard, like most keyboards, is not originally made for African rhythms and melodies. However, with the assistance of keyboard mechanics in Omdurman market, the keyboard is specially tweaked to achieve a perfect, sweet key tone that resonates universally.

In a groundbreaking approach, Ostinato Records, a US label specializing in hidden musical talents, collaborated with Jantra to create a hybrid reissue-contemporary album titled ‘Synthesised Sudan - Astro-Nubian Electronic Jaglara Sounds From The Fashaga Underground’. The team extracted melodic patterns, rhythms, and MIDI data from Jantra's early cassette and digital recordings, merging them with recordings from his live performances. The result is a collection of ten individual dance tracks that capture the essence of Jantra's electrifying parties, bringing this unique Sudanese music to a worldwide audience.

‘Synthesised Sudan - Astro-Nubian Electronic Jaglara Sounds From The Fashaga Underground’ is a testament to the rich diversity of African electronic music. Jantra's cosmic dance emerges as a worthy sibling and rival to other electronic styles exported from the continent.