As Jeff Bridges might once have said: Rock ‘n’ Riti - phew! Put Justin Adams’s Bo Diddley-meets-buzzsaw blues guitar with Juldeh Camara’s hyperactive single-string violin playing and you’ve got one of the most exhilarating boundary crossing releases of the year.
In world music circles, Adams is probably best known as the producer of bands Lo’Jo and Tinariwen and creator of the well-received Arabaseque-meets-desert-blues album Desert Road. But he’s also got an interesting side hobby as Robert Plant’s guitarist, and (the occasional acoustic guitar or tehardant lute appearance apart) that rockier influence is very apparent on Soul Science as Adams thrashes, picks, distorts, strums and generally stretches his instrument in all sorts of interesting blues-based rock guitar directions. Around all these effects dances the rootsy fiddle work of Juldeh Camara, a Fulani from Gambia and ex-member of Ifang Bondi (and more latterly guest on kora player Seckou Keita’s Afro-Mandinka Soul album). But we’ve never heard Camara quite like this before, his performances ranging from manic spirit-raising screeches to swift, elaborate melodies (at times it’s hard to believe are being pulled from such a simple instrument).
His voice is a remarkable surprise as well — rich, confident and assured in contrast to Adams’s less convincing vocal on Blue Man Returns (Camara handles all the rest of the vocals). And a note too about the musicians whose contributions underpin a consistently engaging sound — Salah Dawson Miller on drums and Billy Fuller on bass provide a rhythmic drive more than equal to the thrilling ride on which Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara take the listener. Thrilling stuff.