Those who caught Sya, the astonishing debut of this Malian instrumentalistist/vocalist and his producer partner, Yves Wenert, were amazed by the blend of earthy electronics and African instrumentation -- a dry-as-dirt sonic palette that evocatively painted the sun-bleached expanses of Mali's northern deserts. Timbuktu, his follow-up and first American release, is an oasis -- considerably lighter in tone, but still surrounded by unforgivingly funky wilderness. On the opener, "Sisi," the sun-baked sonics are relieved by horn hits and dance beats, but Bagayogo's mesmerizing tenor keeps things grounded. Acoustic guitars and the plunk of balafon (a wooden mallet instrument) and kamalen'goni, the sinewy hunter's harp of Wassalou music, entwine around metronomic rhythms accented by djembe drum breakdowns, perfectly balancing the acoustic and electronic. With his mantra-like delivery and arid funk, Bagayogo often suggests an Ali Farka Touré souped up for the new millennium -- the title track backs the loping, bluesy gait of Farka's most popular songs with a nervous electronic patter. Some of these innovations are less welcome -- the de riguer vocoder effects of "Dambalou" make rather desperate claims to clubland -- but the missteps are few and far between on this atmospheric and addictive set. Fans of Farka, Habib Koite, and the stripped-down sound of Oumou Sangare will relish Issa Bagayogo.
Performance CreditsIssa Bagayogo Primary Artist,Voices
Yves Wernert Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Balafon,Karignan
Mamou Sidibe Vocals
Dene Issebéré Background Vocals
Moussa Kone Guitar
Mamah Diabate N'Goni,Ngombi
Technical CreditsYves Wernert Programming,Producer,Engineer
Issa Bagayogo Contributor
Philippe Berthier Producer
Moussa Kone translation
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I don't understand why we need to continue classifying music into a small handful of "categories", but I suppose some reference points are helpful. This music transcends all that. This is the kind of music you will hear blasting on the streets of Africa and Europe, but which hasn't caught on in a massive way here. Yet. Issa Bagayogo merges traditional African rhythms, instruments, and singing styles with modern studio techniques and electronic sounds, into a hip, funky, international sound. African music can seem repetitive to Western ears, but get into it, and the subtlety of this music is hypnotic in the best sense of the word. It grooves gently, and overall it's quite an understated, laid back sound. I've been listening to it constantly for weeks and it continues to grow on me. The fact that I don't understand even one word of the lyrics makes no difference at all. I'm getting a few copies for Chritmas gifts.