From Brunei to Uganda, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and versatile recording artist Alifchief takes us on a psychedelic journey with his debut 8-track album, 'nusantarafrika.'
Alifchief is well known for his artistic versatility, incorporating sounds from genres like psychedelic rock, 70s Afrobeat, Lingala, and funk. The electrifying performer has taken the stage at Zanzibar Watersports Festival alongside names like Leo Mkanyia. Now releasing his debut album, ''nusantarafrika,' Alifchief takes us through his Nusantara and African influences while creating a beautiful and psychedelic sonic experience.
Hopping into the album, we're met with the introductory track, 'Neraka," which kicks off with a bold and powerful 1920s-esque drum arrangement. As Alifchief makes his way in via his striking and haunting electric guitar, he shines beams of light over the eerie and mysterious sonic atmosphere. This song is a groovy and minimal instrumental that focuses on the pounding drum breaks alongside Alifchief's soaring electric guitar melodies that open the album like a hazy ray of light shining through the darkest clouds.
Getting groovy with the next track, "Ready To Go (feat. Christian Magnusson)," this song opens with a psychedelic and groovy funk/jazz arrangement that later meets Alifchief's clear and warm vocals. While he encourages us to take our chances and risks in life, we jump into the vibrant and spirited hook with a brilliant brass section alongside the snazziest drum arrangements and Alifchief's twinkling electric guitar riffs. We love the groove and feel of this song; it spices up the album's vibrance perfectly.
Moving onto track number three, "Night & Day," Alifchief opens the song with a similar nostalgic drum arrangement that later greets his 70s-inspired electric guitar riffs. This track is where we get to know Alifchief's tender and soothing vocal stylings; he flows his lush vocals through our speakers while singing an uplifting message of getting down with the groove. Alifchief does an impeccable job of taking us through several different musical eras, all through his versatile artistic skillset and vast influences, which are showcased perfectly in this upbeat tune.
Reaching the album's soothing halfway point with "The Wanderer," Alifchief kicks the track into gear with the haziest, moodiest, and most introspective instrumentals we could ask for. We adore the sonic tributes to hazy and grungey west coast guitars soaked in reverb, not to mention Alifchief's reflective and empowering lyricism. He later takes us through the tale of a wanderer who seeks knowledge with each venture. Alifchief then belts his powerful and passionate lyrics towards the song's second half while closing the track with his magnetic and emotional electric guitar solo.
The opening of a sonic portal shines through our imagination on the fifth track, "Morning Mist," which opens with the brightest and most intricate sonic arrangements that drench us in anticipation and energy. As the warm drum breaks begin to kick in, so does Msafiri Zawose's shimmering zeze that's perfectly edited and chopped to portray this brilliant psychedelic landscape. We adore the Southeastern musical influences within this radiant track, as it helps us get to know more about the man behind the complex and lush music.
Slowing it down with track number six, "Ramahku," we're peacefully greeted with slow and melancholy acoustic guitar picking that later drops into Alifchief's soulful strumming. As he begins to warm our speakers with his soothing and tender vocal stylings, we drift into the song's delicate hook, where Alifchief continues to serenade us in a different language. Although we're not familiar with the tongue he's speaking in, we feel mesmerized by his dreamy vocals that whisper and hum with the utmost heart and passion. We appreciate how easy this song is to listen to; Alifchief truly makes every moment worthwhile.
Brightening the album with the next tune, "Jaya," this track opens with a bright and tropical sonic landscape that quickly drops into the exciting first verse. As Alifchief begins to serenade us in another different language, he immerses us in nothing but warmth and happiness alongside his groovy sonics. We can't help but tap our feet to the song's upbeat and energetic drum breaks. The overall passionate feel of the sweet electric guitar melodies and Alifchief's enthusiastic performance bring us all the joy and comfort we could ask for. A hazy and surf-rock-inspired guitar solo then takes us by the hand and closes the song with the utmost energy.
Landing on the album's outro track, "Buzz Like Flies," the tune kicks off with the heaviest drum breaks that crash into a crunchy electric guitar solo, piercing our speakers with psychedelia and energy. As Alifchief jumps in with his filtered and mysterious vocal portrayal, he spices up the song's groove with his rhythmic delivery alongside the bouncy and jazzy instrumentals. While singing an empowering message of steering away from negativity, Alifchief scorches us with his flaming hot electric guitar solo once again and leads us to the outro of this powerhouse album.
Don't miss out on Alifchief's gripping debut album, 'nusantarafrika,' now available on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome back to BuzzMusic, Alifchief. Congratulations on releasing your dynamic debut album, 'nusantarafrika.' When did you begin formulating ideas for this record, and what inspired you to do so?
Thank you, BuzzMusic! I started to formulate ideas for this record in October 2020 after the release of my self-titled EP. These ideas were a natural progression of the ones I had explored earlier in the EP: the fusion of rock, blues, and various African genres such as afrobeat and Gogo music alongside my Nusantara (Malay) roots.
We love the artistic versatility in terms of your broad musical influences in 'nusantarafrika.' What languages were you speaking throughout the album, and what genres or sounds did you want to capture?
I sang primarily in English and Malay with a tiny bit of French ( you can hear this at the end of Jaya which was a tribute to Congolese Rumba). I guess I wanted to capture certain genres that I have a connection to, whether it may be recent or from the past.
Do you have a favorite song from 'nusantarafrika?' Which song speaks the most to you and why?
I don't have a favorite, but rather, I have some favorites that tend to change depending on my mood of the day. I would say Ready To Go, The Wanderer, and Jaya are my favorites at the moment for the reason being that these songs really captured the African essence that I was looking for in my music.
What was it like collaborating with Christian Magnusson for the second track, "Ready To Go?" Why did you want to bring him on for a feature?
It was a fun experience to work with him as I was fortunate to be able to record Magnusson in person at his residence by the seaside town of Douarnenez in France. Since we knew each other personally very well, it was a smooth process. Being a highly experienced musician himself who had performed many tours in Europe and Brazil, Magnusson was able to tune in to what I specifically wanted for the song. I've always admired his playing, which is a valid enough reason to feature him!
What do you hope to make your audience feel and experience when listening to 'nusantarafrika?'
I hope that the album can take the audience on a journey that encapsulates my personal experience of living in Africa over the last five years and have them experience various musical flavors that I've picked up along this journey while putting forward my Nusantara roots as a way to remind myself and the audience where I am from.