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Melodie/ France

While the Sony reissue of his amazing Lambarena made a big spash in the press, this Gabonese poet and musician has always been busy at his work, and with Maladalite we find Pierre Akendengue in an all acoustic framework that is in some ways a stark contrast to his more famous work. But this structure also offers he and his collaboratuer Hughes de Courson some opportunities to expand their vision, and they take them.

Akendengue is a non-conformist, with neither a strict tie to tradition nor a slavish addiction to pop music, and he searches and finds a unique artistic vision in his music. As a poet, he understands frugality and spareness, and uses both in Maladalite to great advantage. Each note is carefully measured, each silence vital and alive. When he uses large ensembles, usually groupings of voices or similar instruments, it is as ambiance rather than power. He never over reaches, and never trips over a clich´┐Ż in his effort to incorporate all he hears into his music, Latin, African and European. Akendengue the composer is superlative. Akendengue the singer and musician is more notable here than on Lambarena. His sweet tenor and his guitar playing punctuate rather than override the rest of the tracks, always right but never conspicuous. He is joined by a wonderful group of African and French musicians and singers, notably soukous guitarist Maika Munan along with Courson's string players and arrangements. For fans of the grand Lambarena, this album offers a gentle reminder of the power of acoustics. - CF

Available at cdRoots

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