The ambient soundscapes of the project wESTA MAN feature fascinating sounds that portray the dark world of the seas and seabed, engines, machines and ships around the Mtoni Marine Center in Zanzibar. Three Norwegian sound experimentalists devised this project, drummer Erland Dahlen, member of the Nils Petter Molvaer Trio, who released last year an excellent solo album, Rolling Bomber (Hubro music, 2012), free lance guitarist Bjorn Charles Dreyer, who recorded two duo albums with Dahlen (This is not Sweden and Rød, 2007 and 2011, both on Hecca Records) and bass and electronics player Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen, known for his association with the electronics meets funk and jazz outfit Xploding Plastix.
This project began with the sound of a motor. Dreyer was involved in another sound art project that portrayed the industrial shipping history of the town Mandal located in the southern coast of Norway, where he grew up. The album, Domestic Engine , based on the sounds of of the boat engine called Marna Motor was released in 2007 by Dreyer's quartet Piston Ltd. (Hecca, 2007). Five years later Sigbjørn Nedland from NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) challenged the three musicians to compose new pieces focusing on a particular high speed catamaran engine, the Westamaran, an innovative work of engineering, and about its cultural significance in maritime regions. The musicians were interested in its global reach and tracked it in East Africa, in one off the coasts of Zanzibar, Tanzania.
The music sets an enigmatic atmosphere. Distant, drone motor sounds are blended with the sounds of the ocean, below and over the water, patiently become clearer as the pieces evolve. Local East-African violinist Mohammed Issa Matona attempts to anchors the mournful "Hydrophone Blues" in his culture before this soundscape withdraws to another exploration of the sounds of the sea. The delicate "Pwnai," with local kalimba player Anania Ngoriga, is one of the most beautiful pieces here. The suggestive, melodic guitar lines of Dreyer are answered with subtle percussive and electronic touches that together, form a profound hypnotic experience. The industrial drones of "Kili" and "Endemic Engine" are intensified in the metallic eruption of "TINA." And then this arresting sonic journey returns to a spare and soft percussive sounds in "Nje" and the gentle conclusion of "Submerge."