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Talibe-Les Enfants
Talibe-Les Enfants
Price: £5.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle acoustic music from Senegal, 18 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Talibe-Les Enfants (Audio CD)
The sleeve notes say "...rhythms of the Serer with a Wolof sound in an atmosphere of the Fouta played on traditional instruments..."
His voice is gentle, rather than one of the big Senegalese voices like Baaba Maal or Youssou N'dour. Although he does have echoes of both those singers in the phrasing at times.
Also the gentle pulsing bass, xalam and calabash reminds me of singers from Casamance like Abdou Diop and Daby Balde. There's a bit of sax and some synth, the breathy sound of a Peulh flute, a touch of kora, and lovely backing singers.
It's all very tasteful, gentle and accessible.

Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969 -1978
Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969 -1978
Price: £14.85

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much funk!, 18 Oct. 2015
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This is just too much funk for me! Where is the Congolese music?
I guess it should be obvious from the title "Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba" but there is too little of the lovely sweet singing, bubbling guitars and dreamy horns of Congolese music. Thankfully some does survive here and there at the start of some tracks: Nakobala Yo Denise, Zonga Vonvon, Nakomi Paralise and Sisa Motema but even these turn into more predictable funk and sax.
There's a lot of swirling organ and very strong James Brown influence. Fine if you like that kind of thing.....I get bored with it quite quickly.
I struggle with Analog Africa releases as they're all wonderful African sounds dampened by funk.
So it you like funk or afrobeat, you'll love this.

Ako - Blick Bassy
Ako - Blick Bassy
Price: £12.76

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A startlingly unique sound, 5 July 2015
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This review is from: Ako - Blick Bassy (Audio CD)
Exceptionally good CD that doesn't even last half a hour. The short length is actually perfect for this kind of music. You don't tire of it and you're left wanting more.

Blick Bassy is a Cameroonian musician, but I'm not sure that helps to describe the music on offer. It's a very unique sound. There are 3 main musicians:
Blick Bassy on guitar and vocals.
Clement Petit on cello and banjo.
Fidel Fourneyron on Trombone.
With Olivier Ker Ourio's harmonica on one track (Ake) and Nicolas Repacs samples and beats on Wap do Wap and One Love.

Bassy's singing style is beautifully gentle and crystal clear. To give a reference point I'd say it's like Lokua Kanza. The overall feel is at times kind of bluesy but also playful and childlike (in a good way). The unusual combination of instruments make a unique sound. It's not often that you hear plucking banjo and pulsing trombone together. The cello is also very good, not at all syrupy. It's tone is rich and subtly melancholic, sometimes played as a bass. Tracks like Kiki and Wap Do Wap are more upbeat with 'jazz' tinges.

There is a lot of space in this recording around the vocals and instruments. Nothing is hurried or showy. It's a very wonderful album. Not really a sound you'd think of as African. The vocal is often as musical as the instruments - by that I mean it is richly textured and rhythmic, working more like an instrument. There are a few bits of English vocals which is usually a bit of an annoyance for me but it works fine here.

This is wonderfully gentle and accessible music. It deserves to be recognised as a 'classic' album. Great cover art too. Everyone please buy this recording and encourage Bassy to make many more like it. He' got a couple of previous releases that whilst being quite nice (Fatou Diawara appears on Leman) are not as special as Ako.

At Home - Live in Marciac
At Home - Live in Marciac
Price: £9.91

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That's a LOT of piano..., 5 July 2015
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Malian singer and guitar player Diawara joins up with Cuban pianist Fonseca on this live recording.

There's a lot of energy but, unfortunately, there's also a LOT of piano. Really much more piano than anyone needs. I'm sure the playing is technically brilliant but it just doesn't really do it for me. Some of the songs are much too long (Connection is 14 minutes long!). It's all a bit pedestrian and 'funky' in a way that just doesn't work for me.

It may have been better live, although I think there were probably a few people popping out to the loo or the bar during the longer tracks. The photos make it look like the musicians enjoyed themselves.

Unfortunately on CD the tracks are over long and the showy piano playing dominates (I can visualise Fonseca turning to the crowd and flashing his pearly whites in a Liberace kind of way). Tracks like Sowa or Clandestin don't survive the piano onslaught and end up worse for wear compared to Diawara's versions on her own CD.

There's another review by someone who clearly loves this CD, so it's really a matter of taste. I love Malian music but it's quite lost here and I don't love Cuban music and I especially don't like a lot of piano. This one's not for me.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2015 11:47 AM GMT

Price: £17.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Love it or loath it?, 21 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Havana-Paris-Dakar (Audio CD)
I can't really decide whether I love or loath this album. It has the lovely vocals of Senegalese singer and bass player Alune Wade backed by a Cuban band. Recorded in Havana it is mainly an African covers album with a few of Wade's own songs.
Aminata originally by Laba Sosseh works well - but then it always had a Cuban sound.
Petit Pays, in a duet with Sara Tavares is a million miles away from the amazing version by Cesaria Evora - but it's not awful.
There's a version of Yarahya by Algerian Dahmane El-Harrachi. Nice trumpet but it's too sweet - Rachid Taha's version is much better.
Salif Keita's Seydou works well, trumpet and guitar.
Grand Kalle's Independance Cha Cha gets a smooth treatment.

It's just all a bit easy listening, gentle and softened. Very tasteful and restrained.
Wade's voice is very nice, clear and sweet. I'd love to hear him with a more Senegalese backing of tama, sabar and xalam.

22 Strings
22 Strings
Price: £7.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime solo kora, 7 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: 22 Strings (Audio CD)
A gorgeous solo kora album by a UK based musician. 10 tracks, mostly instrumental, unaccompanied by any other musicians. This really allows you to hear the wonderful acoustic sounds of the kora strings, 22 on this album, compared to the more usual 21 strings. The sleeve notes explain that when Jeli Mady Wuleng, the first ever kora player died, a string was taken off the kora to commemorate him (and it's been that way since then, except in southern Senegal and northern Guinea).

The CD comes in a rather nice booklet with lots of photos and explanation for each of the tracks.

There are some slower paced pieces that are very stately and considered, along with faster ones with flourishes of rippling playing. Seckou also sings on a few tracks - he has a really nice gentle voice, not one of those big booming griot voices. This is a very nice album that gets better and deeper with every listen.

Blue Tsapiky
Blue Tsapiky
Price: £12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Stripped back acoustic guitar and vocal from Madagascar, 10 May 2015
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This review is from: Blue Tsapiky (Audio CD)
This is a lovely album which creates a wonderful atmosphere with very few musicians. Teta sings the lead vocal and plays guitar in a very plucked style. Kirasoa provides another back up vocal and subtle percussion with a shaker. There's just one other instrument, accordion by Jean Piso on the track Ka Manira Olo.

There are a few instrumentals which are no less captivating than those tracks with vocals. It's really good music that is very accessible and easy to get into. It's much better than his previous album Fototse Racines Roots, which seemed too serious and a bit sombre. Some tracks have a bluesy feel, some much more uplifting and rattle along with unusual rhythms. The guitar playing is great, often with a fast plucking style like that used on a valiha.

A New Day
A New Day
Price: £13.57

3.0 out of 5 stars Trying too hard for western success, 10 May 2015
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This review is from: A New Day (Audio CD)
Carlou D had a really great first album but this follow up is much weaker. There are some okay moments on it but it's just too strained and too western in style. He seems to fall into the mistakes already made by Youssou N'dour. Even to the extent of including a song with a Cherry (although for N'dour and Neneh Cerry, 7 Seconds did prove a good crossover hit).

There are some dreadful funk songs in a Jamirioquai style, such as Soldier with Eagle Eye Cherry. Carlou's vocal even has that annoying high pitched tendency of Jamiriquai's vocalist. Show Me Love and I Believe are as dreadful as the titles sound.

Recorded in Stockholm and Dakar - I think there's just too much north European pop and jazz influence here. It won't have the publicity to make it a crossover success either. Rather disappointing.

Trio Da Kali
Trio Da Kali
Price: £4.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning griot music of Mali, 10 May 2015
This review is from: Trio Da Kali (MP3 Download)
Five tracks of stunning griot music from Mali performed by the younger generation, keeping the beautiful acoustic, stately and confident sounds alive.

The trio are vocalist Hawa Kasse Mady Diabate (daughter of the wonderful singer Kasse Mady Diabate ), balafon (an African xylophone) player Lassana Diabate and n'goniba player Mamadou Kouyate (son of Bassekou Kouyate). They're joined by karinyan (metal scraper) and kamalengoni (buzzing bass).

Just over 17 minutes on this EP, which you can get on CD from the World Circuit website (although postage charges are very high).

The first track, Talamba, is just Hawa's vocal with no instruments. Under a minute long it allows you to hear her wonderful voice and phrasing. The next three tracks, Dissa, Yirimadio and Godmothers are with the full trio including karinyan and on Yirimadio with Harouna Samake's pulsing kamalengoni. It's a fuller sound playing beautiful, confident music that is steeped in years of tradition. The instruments set out repeating patterns with solo flourishes in turn by the balafon and n'goni, with Hawa's unstrained vocal floating across and with the music.

The final track Rosewood just has the wonderful playing of Lassana Diabate on balafon, without vocals or other instruments. The sound is more complex than the 'clean' sound of the western xylophone or marimba.

This is 'world music' of real class, unaffected by electric guitars, crashing drumkits and horrid keyboards. It's very nice and I hope an album follows soon!

Sicilia Araba
Sicilia Araba
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arabic music from Sicily, 10 May 2015
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This review is from: Sicilia Araba (Audio CD)
Arabic music from Sicily. Lyrics from arabic poets of Sicily from 827 - 1091.

Beautiful floating arabic vocals backed by band of oud, acoustic guitar, ney flute, bass and percussion. You also get a bit of baglama and tambur (Turkish stringed instruments), sax, clarinet, violin and Indian tabla.

Very nice rootsy sound, occasionally sounding Turkish, or with vocal flourishes not too far from Pakistan's sufi qawwali.

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