Album: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, I Speak Fula (Out Here)

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The Independent Culture

Bassekou Kouyate's follow-up to the acclaimed Segu Blue has an energy indicative of the live performances of his band Ngoni ba, where the four ngoni lutes stir up a storm of sparkling notes, reflecting both the twinkling, cyclical cascades of Mali's classical kora music, and the earthier, desert-blues style popularised by the likes of Ali Farka Toure.

The latter's son Vieux brandishes his late father's guitar to spellbinding effect on a couple of tracks, while Kouyate's old boss Toumani Diabate sits in on kora for a couple others; but it's the interplay of the ngonis which drives this music along. It's perhaps the form of African music most approachable to western rock palates. But there's no comparison between these delicately interwoven lines and the tortuous knotting of most rock guitar riffs. The songs follow the Malian griot tradition of praising elders and forebears – and even Bassekou's own wife, the band's singer Amy Sacko, in one track – and promoting traditional values including virginity ("Tineni"), women as nurturers ("Musow"), good upbringing ("Ladon"), and in "Jamana Be Diya", extolling the virtues of harmony, peace and progress, citing the example of Barack Obama in America.

Download this: I Speak Fula, Jamana Be Diya, Musow, Torin Torin