Vula Vie (EN)

Bex Burch_gyil, voc
Ruth Goller_electric bass
Jim Hart_drums

New CD: Do Not Be Afraid, January 2019


“Dance to it, make love to it, consume it, listen to it, stare at the clouds to it!” Iggy Pop
“One of my discoveries for the London Jazz Festival… Good is Good” Gilles Peterson
“They were the unexpected stars of a glitzy show” John Fordham, The Guardian (UK)
“like Portico Quartet on steroids” Jazzwise

The band’s new set confidently weaves sparse polyrhythms and intricate rhythm structures
around bandleader Bex Burch’s Gyil lines and take the instrument’s sound into new
territory, with bassist Ruth Goller (Acoustic Ladyland, Melt Yourself Down, Rokia Traore)
and drummer Jim Hart (Cloudmakers, Ralph Alessi, Electric Biddle) introducing a rough,
post-punk edge to the band’s sound.
In Bex’s own words: “I have loved making this music. Writing tunes, crafting grooves
and both going deeper into the information enclosed in the Dagaare forms and
choosing my own meanings. Many of the tracks on the album were composed
using a ‘rhythm wheel’ – rather than the hierarchical structure of western notation
with a single starting point and meter, I physically made wheels with had slots cut
out to donate rhythmic and harmonic on/off. This music has a really different flow,
asymmetrical and spacious – it feels unusual but still grooves. As musicians, Ruth,
Jim are mainly from jazz and experimental backgrounds we’ve really enjoy
approaching this style of playing with a fresh perspective.”
Vula Viel was formed in 2013 by Bex Burch. After studying at Guildhall and training as a
classical percussionist, she embarked on a life-changing three-year period living, farming
and studying with xylophone master Thomas Segura in Upper West Ghana; the band’s
name means ‘Good is Good’ in the Dagaare language. After being mentored in the deep
traditions around the Gyil, a large African xylophone made of sacred lliga wood, Burch
began the journey to bring the instrument into her own music. The acclaimed debut Vula
Viel album in 2015, ‘Good is Good’, was the first realisation of her vision and ‘Do Not Be
Afraid’ is the first set of Burch originals.
Described as “Ghanaian minimalism”, with the unassuming ability to blur the lines between
atmospheres – Vula Viel’s sound may nod to Steve Reichian jazz, but influences don’t stop
there: one can hear echoes of Bill Laswell and the irresistible energy of Arthur Russel.


Evening Standard – Album of the week ****”punchy, danceable… Vibe-tastic”
Guardian – “Geometric African minimalism… Goller’s fuzz bass adds a thrilling post-punk edge to proceedings.”

Sunday Times – Essential Release: “Unconventional band who can take you by surprise… There’s a punk energy to some of the more frenetic performances”

Songlines: “Fearless.. Vula Viel are a live sensation.”

Rhythm Passport: “Vula Viel are a blessing for a music scene like the London one, obsessed with coolness and what being cool implies. They simply play what they like, how they like it. Paraphrasing the title of their album, they’re not afraid, … dancier and captivating…. a unique music experience.”

Zakia (NTS) “Best gig I’ve been to in a long time! An intoxicating blend of punk bass fuzz, polyrhythmic jazz drummming & soul-stirring traditional melodies beaten with joy on the gyil… Not to be missed!”

Gareth Thompson All About Jazz:
Bex Burch has made the gyil (Ghanaian xylophone) an unlikely lead instrument, and she leaped onstage to hammer at its carved slats like a blacksmith at a wooden forge. Despite some fuzzy zings through the amplifiers, the gyil sang out with sweet melody under Burch’s knockings. Her songs are built around catchy motifs with lyrics akin to haikus or spirituals. […] Vula Viel’s rhythm setup might have stolen the thunder from a lesser act than Burch. Ruth Goller’s electric bass added raw throbbings with a touch of New York new wave. Drummer Jim Hart’s solo slot was more like something screened in the Guggenheim: a visceral display of bodily power, all intellect abandoned, straining every nerve to thrill the senses. […] This may have been an album launch for Vula Viel, but more nights like this could send their earthborn grooves into orbit.

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