Ali Farka Touré's MaliK7 label has taken the lead in recording and promoting a new generation of Malian artists, opening their own Bogolan studio in Bamako to make modern equipment available to younger musicians. One of the most promising of these is singer Mamou Sidibé. A native of Bamako, Sidibé has a haunting voice with an almost papery whistle in her more breathy phrasing. She apprenticed as a backup singer for Oumou Sangaré before Moussa Koné, a former Touré guitarist, 'discovered' her talents and suggested a collaboration. This is the result.
The MaliK7 production under the direction of Yves Wernert is immediately evident in the synthesized, bass-heavy arrangements. This is the same team, after all, that produces "Techno" Issa Bagayogo and the rap group Nafigiya ("Indescretion"), among others. Fortunately, not all the instrumentation is electronic; Moussa Koné's guitar mixes it up with the kamalen n'goni (West African lute) of Boua Diakité and the calabash rhythms of Adama Traoré. In addition to Sidibé's outstanding vocals, rising star Ramata Diakité returns the favor that Sidibé provided for Diakité's first solo album, Na, in providing backup on Nakan. Interestingly, the liner notes tout the fact that there is no tradition left on Nakan outside of the lyrics and rhythms; a city like Bamako, though, is nothing if not a melting pot, and the experimental approach of its child, Mamou Sidibé, is definitely in line with that tradition. - Craig Tower
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