The latest offering from the New York based Vieux Diop is the perfect music for the cocktail/dinner party set; a bit of harmless exotica to spice things up, perhaps a conversation starter, but hardly a focal point. The stronger tracks are catchy, though too long, and succeed only in irritating. They paint a rather make-believe fairyland picture of Africa, where cardboard cut-out elephants, sunsets and warm, wafting breezes abound. It's all rather contrived and clichéd, though it is perhaps the perfect music for an advertising campaign for tourism to Senegal. Its pretty melodies, pseudo-jazz licks and non-threatening vibe would calm the most nervous of beasties.
Afrika Wassa is, unfortunately, what the worst of World Music is all about. A touch of kora here, a bit of acoustic guitar there, a dab of marimba and a shot of watery bass add up to not that much. The song-writing is not without merit, but the songs themselves have been suffocated by over-production, saccharine backing vocals, a nauseating lushness, and a bland tempo. There are songs trying to get out, but they are simply swamped by a low level haze and in the end nothing really happens on this CD. It's simply a joy ride; a journey through vistas of palm trees, grass skirts, and swirling colours, all choreographed into some mad dance and all very very plastic. - Graeme Counsel
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