- Audio CD (12 July 2010)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Double CD
- Label: Nascente
- ASIN: B003DW6506
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,105 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
These were the days before Maal entered his high-profile Mango/Island Records contract of the 1990s, when his music became technologically aware and began to lure the inhabitants of a different dancefloor. This is not to say that the process hadn't started by the second half of the 1980s. The move from mesmeric acoustic rootsiness to Afropop bounce was already in motion. At this time, Maal was just being discovered outside of Senegal, and these albums existed as holy grail cassettes from the local marketplace.
Jambaajo is the best of the three included here, which is good enough reason for it to inhabit disc one. Most of its songs hold a steady sway at their core, with Maal's galvanising voice vaulting high above the stately string constructions. These loping, cyclic patterns provide the melodic snagging for much of the time. Gradually, track by track, the mix gets denser, the guitars multiply and horns, synths and synth-horns pile up incrementally. The title-track makes an organically warm glide, with Maal's youthful voice sounding strikingly high. Nowadays, he's a touch deeper and more rounded. On these numbers, Maal targets the shivery spine with great precision.
Non-African reviewers might always say this, but a pervasive problem arises each time there's a squeebly synthesiser solo. These were unfortunate enough at the time, but now they're just a decade too late to enjoy any kitsch cachet. At times, the production also sounds a touch tinny. The salvation arrives via Maal's exceptional vocal performances, and the detailed relationships between the string instruments.
On disc two, Wango arti leads off with an infectiously melodic lattice of guitar parts, then Sehil revolves around a punchy horn riff, a momentum that's also powered by a tonally-aware under-arm tama drum. Even as the keyboards continue their parping, and the kick drum becomes increasingly brutal, the actual tunes rise far above such specific details.