"SYA" may be the first recording to pair the kamalengoni, the signature harp used in Malian Wasulu music, with electronic dance rhythms. It's a magical combination, and the trance-like repetitive riffs that characterize the Wasulu sound lend themselves well to techno stylings. Not bad, considering that it's coming from a guy who was driving a Bamako minibus when this album came out.
The title track has one of the best hooks you'll hear in recent Malian pop music--just four unforgettable beats. In a radical break from typical Malian pop, Bagayogo's French producer/arranger puts all kinds of ambient sounds (birds chirping, a woman sighing) in the mix. It's languid, lovely, and hard to get out of your head, which is a very good thing.
My only criticism of "SYA" is that it's just a little uneven. There are some memorable tracks like the title cut, and then there are others that are ho-hum. But overall I think this album merits a listen, whether you are an aficianado of Malian music or a techno-phile searching for new offshoots of the genre (and perhaps disappointed with Six Degrees' "Frikyiwa" discs). Wherever you are, Mr. Bagayogo, I hope you've quit your day job and moved into making this kind of music full-time.