Ty Burr
April 12, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Exile

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Geoffrey Oryema
genre
World

We gave it an A-

This title is no joke. Oryema grew up the son of a wealthy bureaucrat in Idi Amin’s Uganda; when the dictator was overthrown, Oryema senior was assassinated and Geoffrey was smuggled to Kenya in a car trunk. Now based in France, where he has forged alliances with a number of Western rock musicians, Oryema has created an aching meditation on banishment, sung in his native Swahili. Half the cuts on Exile are moody, rolling folk-rock, with subtle backing from art-pop pals like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. More traditional pieces feature Oryema’s soft crooning accompanied by thumb piano and the seven-string Ugandan harp known as the nanga. This is a quietly startling record, best heard way past midnight when a troubled world seems to offer no quarter. A-

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