Album: Baaba Maal, Television (Palm Pictures)

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

As with this year's outstanding releases from Issa Bagayogo and Vieux Farka Touré, Television finds Baaba Maal expanding his musical horizons beyond his native influences

He's reaching fresh rapprochements with Western modes – in this case his co-producer, former Compass Point Studio guitarist Barry Reynolds, and two members of the band Brazilian Girls, keyboardist Didi Gutman and singer Sabina Sciubba, of whom one is male and neither is Brazilian. It's the kind of album that will enrage purists who prefer African artists to continue representing their "authentic" homeland culture – though Maal affirms in his sleevenote and in the track "International", internationalism is the friend of African emancipation. Such is the case here, while Reynolds and Gutman find their most advantageous places among the bricolage of African percussion, Sciubba's cool, calm voice serves as balm, soothing Baaba Maal's more impassioned, soulful outbursts on songs such as "Miracle", "Tindo" and "Television". The latter is typical of the elegant, pan-cultural pop that results, as the singer muses how TV is revolutionising African life, with "L'on dans la télévision". Elsewhere, "Dakar Moon" stands out for its flamenco guitar parts, and "Cantaloupe" for the haunting, Celtic whistling.

Download this: 'Television', 'Cantaloupe', 'Tindo', 'Dakar Moon'