16 December 2009

Speaking Fula, Hearing Fula


CD REVIEW
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: I Speak Fula (Sub Pop/Next Ambiance)
USA release date: 2 February 2010

Seems these days you can't read a 2009 top 10 list without tripping over this album. To be sure, I Speak Fula is a superb offering of West African music, centered around the bajno-like hunter's harp known as ngoni. Great percussion, great energy, and guest artists including Vieux Farka Toure, Kassy Mady Diabate, and Toumani Diabate.

The string work is intricate and masterful, and the overall sound generally more lively than Kouyate's Afro-blues-oriented 2007 debut album Segu Blue. All that said, I suspect there's extra hype for this one because it's been picked up by grunge pioneers Sub Pop on their new Next Ambiance sub-label. Perhaps Kouyate will further win me over when the group tours the USA in early 2010, but for now I'm bucking the hype and putting this on my list of great albums that almost made my 2009 top 10 list.

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