Music: The Bura – Bernard Fowler

Emma Connolly

Emma Connolly

Emma lives in England. Ace the dog keeps her feet and heart warm while she writes about music and culture.
Emma Connolly

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the bura

Bernard Fowler named this album for a violent north wind in Eastern Europe that is capable of tearing trees from the soil and throwing fish out of the sea onto land, and the man is a serious musical force himself. A former member of industrial hip-hop group Tackhead, and long-term collaborator with the Rolling Stones, he brings a variety of musicians and musical styles together in The Bura. The tightly produced rock of later-era Rolling Stones recognisably tinges several of the tracks, although his cover of ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ is a serious recasting, featuring rap from Chuck D. The real stand-out moments, however, are found elsewhere. A reggae version of ‘The Letter’ renews the song completely. Hammond organ riffs drip like luscious musical honey tying the complex arrangement together; Fowler has worked some kind of magic that makes it seem almost like a remix, although it contains no samples, reverbs or delays. It stands perfectly at a crossroads between nostalgia and modernity. Meanwhile, the acapella version (included as a bonus) is a thing of pure beauty. This reviewer is often hard to win over to ballads, but Fowler’s voice on ‘See You Again’ creeps up your spine and tickles the back of your neck, while the serpentine violin of L. Shankar wraps sinuously around the verses. ‘My Friend Sin’ is a revelation of Fowler’s stunning blues voice. It’s ragged and tightly-wound all at once, cushioned with the great vocals of fellow Stones accompanist Lisa Fischer. Finally, a Beatles’ cover, Helter Skelter, is the most complex and provocative, featuring spoken word from the controversial Black Panther leader Eldridge Clever, and buzzing with rage, defiance and frightening relevance.

The Stones are fans – you  probably should be too.