A line from the movie Frash Adash goes, “If a counselor is big, all his advice is a punch.” As the city was battered to the ground during the Civil War, Mogadishu’s glitzy discos and seaside stages vanished at the beginning of the 1990s. The musical icons of Somalia fled into exile all over the world. The largest Somali diaspora in Europe now calls London home after many of them arrived there.
The establishment and current headquarters of Somali live music powerhouse Dur-Dur Band International are there. Many early records from Somalia’s Funk, Soul, and Disco culture have been reissued in the past ten years, making their way into vinyl collections outside of the Somali community as well as playlists on radio and streaming services.
But this instance is distinct. The Dur-Dur Band International’s “The Berlin Session” is not a reissue; rather, it is the first brand-new studio effort by a Somalian collective since the end of the nation’s golden age of music three decades ago. The album “The Berlin Session” is a record of the historic reunion of the Dur-Dur Band International with great singers Cabdinuur Alaale from Djibouti, Fadumina Hilowle from London, and Xabiib Sharabi, who lives in exile in Sweden. These songs are from a certain time, and you may have heard them before on reissues like “Sweet As Broken Dates,” which was nominated for a Grammy.
Although more than three decades have passed between the original and the new recordings, “The Berlin Session” is evidence that Somali music is once again hot, lively, and alive.