Since joining the Leaving Records community in 2021 after a move from his Baltimore home, Collins Oboh (aka Colloboh) has become significant contributor to the ever fluid LA experimental scene. Able to focus on his music full-time the Nigerian born, self-taught synthesist set out to refine his extensive catalogue of DIY recordings into a more permanent, polished form. His debut EP for Leaving, the glitchy, hyperkinetic ‘Entity Relation’ was a techno-fuelled introduction to Colloboh’s modular world but his second release, ‘Saana Sahel’ (out now on Leaving) opens up an altogether wider dimension. Colloboh’s music, from the open diarising of his creative endeavours on Instagram, has always been energised by the everyday. So it’s no surprise that on ‘Saana Sahel’ his songs and scenarios become more reflective, probing deeper moods and working through them.
The EP dovetails the introspective and expansive with a fine-tuned balance between solo synth arrangements and broader collective pieces. The emergent Acid Sunrise opens the ‘Saana Sahel’ horizon in bright electro chamber music style, the chugging cello toned synth line stepping out from a solid base of nu-soul chords. Getting locked into this minimal skip is just part of the story though as a kaleidoscope of layers, harmonies and effects follow tributaries from the central theme. There’s some impressionistic and impressive picture painting going on here with fine detailing as delicate as label mate Matthewdavid’s Norns generated computer soundscapes.
Arabesque No.1 sees Colloboh’s modular explorations skirt a risky crossover between new age wooziness and natural chintz. Still he manages to keep on course, his melodic gift ensuring that the tune leans more towards glistening gorgeousness than any empty glitz. Similarly Pavane, Op.50 may nod quirkily towards those early seventies ‘Wonders of the Moog’ samplers but with Colloboh at the controls, the music climbs to somewhere more contemporary and complicated. Dark grandeur and sparkling opulence are involved as the track parades on.
To ensure a flipside to these singular synth-based pieces Colloboh breaks out his jazz fusion, hip hop influences. Mystic You captures this different dive. Unhurried and immersive, it’s a tune that glides from an airy samba shuffle, where the keys are full toned and the synths flutter to higher levels of free jazz informed turbulence. Helping Colloboh extend the sonic panorama drummer Mekala Session brings his vibrant rhythmic physicality while Qu’ran Shaheed’s soulful vocal hovers elegantly over the action. It’s a track powered by Brainfeeder meets nu-jazz plus neo-prog connections with a coda that melts down dangerously.
These same players remain in the Colloboh collective for the moody soul swinger Higher Ground. From a psych-scatting Shaheed to the wild loose crash out from Session, this is as much the sound of second decade 21st century jazz as last year’s formidable ‘Familiar Science’ album from JOYFULTALK. But there’s even more forward thinking to be done on ‘Saana Sahel’ in the experimental dreamy electronica of Full Embrace. Centring around the trademark Blankfor.ms piano patterning, a burbling bassline and the illusive mist of eye to eye’s vocal, the song marks an exceptional step forward for the IDM camp.
Such momentum is the message that comes from ‘Saana Sahel’. Colloboh is a musician unlikely to remain in one place. In whatever shape or form you first encounter his music, the next time will be different but equally delectable. He’s on a rich creative roll and any canny listener will want to keep up with his pace.
Get your copy of ‘Saana Sahel’ by Colloboh from your local record store or direct from Leaving Records HERE