Five years into the project, with two acclaimed albums and dozens of triumphant international performances to its name, Yermande announces a thrilling new phase for this Dakar-Berlin collaboration: emphatically a giant step forward. The group of players is boiled down to twelve for recordings, eight for shows; sessions in Dakar become steeply more focussed. ‘This time around I was better able to specify what I wanted right from the initial recording sessions in Dakar,’ says Ernestus, 'and further in the production process I took more freedom in reducing and editing audio tracks, changing MIDI data, replacing synth sounds and introducing electronic drum samples.’ Right away you hear music-making which has come startlingly into its own. Rather than submitting to the routine, discrete gradations of recording, producing and mixing, the music is tangibly permeated with deadly intent from the off. Lethally it plays a coiled, clipped, percussive venom and thumping bass against the soaring, open-throated spirituality of Mbene Seck’s singing. Plainly expert, drilled and rooted, the drumming is unpredictable, exclamatory, zinging with life. Likewise the production: intuitive and fresh but utterly attentive; limber but hefty; vividly sculpted against a backdrop of cavernous silence. Six chunks of stunning, next-level mbalax, then, funky as anything.