Published May 08, 2015As a Malian ngoni forerunner, Bassekou Kouyaté is perhaps one of the top instrumentalists in the world, regardless of genre. Ba Power, his fourth full-length with band Ngoni Ba, brings it hard, with lute playing that is equal parts intricate and captivating. Kouyaté has stated this particular project was all about adding a bit more "edge and electricity" to his sound while being mindful to the traditional themes of hope and conflict historically symbolic in much of Malian music.
Lead single "Siran Fen" is most evocative of this musical approach, featuring fast-paced percussion, burning distortion and wah-wah pedals and ardent vocals courtesy of Kouyaté's wife Amy Sacko. The Bamako-based Kouyaté notes that the "Ba" in Ba Power means "great" and that the record was made to be as accessible as possible. This is accomplished by meshing the traditional with modern, which he does on varying tunes here: praise song "Ayé Sira Bla" is sweetly reverent, "Te Duniya Laban" slows down the pace and "Borongoli Sleeps" and "Musgow Fenga" showcase his love for, and unique analysis of, modern rock music. Ba Power is a contemporary ngoni masterclass. (Glitterbeat)