Skip to Main Content

Ndagga Rhythm Force

Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force is a collaborative project between the Berlin techno pioneer and some of Senegal’s greatest musicians. Expect coiled, clipped, percussive venom and thumping bass against soaring, open-throated spiritual singing.

In 2007 Ernestus encountered mbalax, a Senegalese polyrhythmic dance music developed in the early ‘70s and based on rhythms from the sabar, a family of drums with a thundering beat and history of use for communication with neighbouring villages up to 10 miles distant. 

Ernestus soon travelled to Dakar in search of the elusive music and its creators, but wound up recording with an impromptu ensemble of over 20 mbalax musicians and percussionists, including veterans of the bands of Senegalese legends Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour. 

Over the course of two years of return trips, the sessions yielded seven records of hypnotic, dub-inflected mbalax, released under the name Jeri-Jeri. 

Crystallizing into a core unit of 12 musicians for intensified collaboration, Ndagga Rhythm Force—named in reference to legendary Bronx dub session band Wackies Rhythm Force—was formed in 2014, distilling the mbalax sound into a more minimal iteration that has been described as an “expression of a dream Dakar-Berlin nexus.” 

Plainly expert, drilled and rooted, the drumming is unpredictable, exclamatory, zinging with life. Stunning, next-level mbalax, funky as anything.