Published Mar 11, 2015The West African country of Mali has been no stranger to strife and insurgency, which have served in part to fuel the euphonious urgency in many of its instrumentalists and artists. The latest from BKO Quintet, titled Bamako Today, travels along this tuneful wavelength, building on traditional sounds and griot cultural touchstones for modern vibes that come off resolutely gritty.
The guitar mastery and call-and-response for "Strange Wassolon" is an immediate standout, with the vocals of Fassara Sacko conveying urgency and passion. The beat on "Donsolu," featuring Piers Faccini, could easily be repurposed for a hip-hop track, while "Comment Ca Va" carries an American blues feel wrapped in Malian sensibilities. The arrangement on "King of Segou" sits at the crossroads of tradition and contemporary, the frenzied energy of "Kononale" invigorates and the ambiance of "Kongo Kono" straight-up rocks.
BKO Quintet deliver a winner here, mainly by making multifaceted artistry feel immediate and difficult to take for granted. (Buda Musique)