August 30, 2012

Diabel Cissokho | Kanabory Siyama

ARTIST:  Diabel Cissokho
TITLE:  Kanabory Siyama
LABEL:  World Village
Senegalese kora player Diabel Cissokho, now based in London, has worked as a sideman for important West African artists such as Baaba Maal and Kandia Kouyate; here he steps forward on his debut album as a bandleader. Diabel is part of a younger generation that has one foot in musical traditions that go back to the days of the Malian Empire, and the other foot in rock and jazz.  His solos are slashing and aggressive, the song-lengths are geared to first-world attention spans (mostly 3 and 4 minutes, none longer than 6:29) and the innate funkiness of Mande rhythms is highlighted, especially on the faster numbers (try tracks 1 and 3).  Beautiful, accessible, free-flowing melodies (you might even call them “hooks”) are another feature of the West African musical tradition – 8 and 11 provide good examples).  Perhaps my favorite here is track 10, which starts in a Bambara or Fulani blues mode and halfway through develops a rolling drum rhythm like that of Senegal’s popular mbalax style.  This broad approach, bringing in influences across generations and ethnic groups, helps make this one of the best West African neo-traditional albums I’ve heard this year. 
TOP TRACKS:    1    3    8    10    11
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    5    7    9

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