Cologne-based afro-fusion collective Muito Kaballa announces their signing to Batov Records with the new single ‘Like A River Part I’, released on Wednesday 21st June.

Acting as the introduction to the musical world and lyrical narratives of the upcoming record ‘Like A River, the track leans into the river theme, providing an all-encompassing, flowing journey. Tim von Malotki’s percussive bass clarinet lines cut through the meandering wash of Benjamin Schneider’s rootsy, highlife-inspired guitars and atmospheric piano flourishes, courtesy of Jan Janzen. Vocalist Nora Beisel floats across the arrangement, backed by emotive horn harmonies whilst reflecting on the change of path at the end of a relationship; a new orientation and course set.

“Musically we tried to really engage with the river metaphor. We worked with all these ‘water’ sounds and effects that kind of produce this ocean vibe. As the song evolves, it also follows along this idea of a river that grows stronger and more dangerous as the current grows.”

An album focused on transitional moments in life, and separation from ingrained social ideals,

‘Like A River’ is anchored around the three movements of ‘Like A River Parts I-III’ which act as the record’s source, middle and end point. Set to be accompanied by a film to which these movements are the score, it’s an achievement of songwriting & collective arrangement, incorporating wide-ranging influences that span afrofunk, gnawa, contemporary jazz and rumba. Whereas their previous albums have mostly linked to afrobeat, and addressed topics like social equality, racial politics and climate change, ‘Like A River’ is a concept album that takes a more intimate, personal approach.

“The album deals with transitioning and separations, taking on ideas like: ‘at age 30 you should definitely have children, a house and a car, or ideas on how to live relationships and love. Separating from these ideas or overcoming them can be challenging. The outcome can be ambivalent as the separation of an idea also leaves you somewhat without orientation. It might still be necessary to go off the ‘“straight” road and follow a different path just like a river.”

Tracks such as ‘Like A River Part II’ dip into swirling psychedelia centred around an explorative 12/8 groove, whilst ‘Carry Me’ takes a subtle shift away from the 70s analogue sounds favoured by the band, combining full bodied synth soundscapes with euphoric horn arrangements. Not content with just its core members, the group also employ the skills of Belgo-Congolese vocalist Reinel Bakolé for ‘Let Go’ and ‘All This While’, further expanding their pool of influence into the world of future soul.

Led by tenor saxophonist and composer Niklas Mündemann, Muito Kaballa are a collective based in Cologne. Originally started as a one-man loop station street show, the project has grown to be known for its eclectic and mesmerising live show. The band have released three albums; 2019’s ‘Everything Is Broke’, 2021’s ‘Mamari’ and 2022’s ‘Little Child’, building a
steady fanbase and drawing critical acclaim from domestic press outlets.

‘Like A River’ releases on the 1st of September via Batov Records.