At the turn of the ’80s, legendary soundsmith Brian Eno was at the peak of his African investigations. Around the same time he and Talking Head David Byrne concocted the bizarre, prescient culture clash My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Eno also tackled the production on this first (and sadly, last) album from Ghanaian octet Edikanfo.
The Pace Setters strikes a balance between the effervescence of Ghana’s locally brewed nightclub music, highlife, and the tensile strength of Afrobeat from nearby Nigeria – found in the proud, punchy brass refrains and tough percussion breakdowns. It’s of its moment, of course, so delicious disco-funk is the name of the game here, with lots of snapping bass and cute laser zaps. An Ethiopian angle asserts itself on “Gbenta”.
This reissue surfaces almost 40 years after the fact, and with a tragic footnote to explain the absence of further Edikanfo gold. The Pace Setters was released in 1981, a year that for Ghanaians, concluded with a coup d’état that killed off Accra’s happening nightlife just as surely as the COVID bug is doing so right now, worldwide. The band dissolved soon after, leaving only this congenial slab of vinyl behind.