Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba I Speak Fula

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba I Speak Fula
There has been no shortage of innovative music from Mali over the past decade, and this album just adds to the pile. Kouyate's axe is the n'goni, or rather the n'goni family of guitar-like instruments. Over the years, he has invented different fingering techniques and restrung traditional configurations to open up unexplored musical territory. If you're at all a fan of West African music, you've run into the n'goni/calabash combo before, but seldom if ever have the twosome combined with such speed, dexterity and passion. It doesn't hurt to have two top-flight soloists along for the ride: Toumani Diabate (the ever-experimental kora master) and Vieux Farka Toure's nimble electric guitar. The sparring sessions are both fiery and good-natured, as tempos creep into the 150-BPM range without strain. Kouyate employs a wah pedal to change the tones of his liquid leads both subtly and dramatically, as in the noisy "Musow." But it's not all high-energy fireworks; Malian blues workout "Bambugu Blues" is unhurried in its virtuosity. This is killer stuff from start to finish. (Sub Pop)