Jeri Jeri & Mark Ernestus 800% Ndagga / Ndagga Versions

Jeri Jeri & Mark Ernestus 800% Ndagga / Ndagga Versions
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Europe has become the de facto filter for myriad bands from Africa seeking to make it in the world music biz. It hasn't been an easy ride, with many falling into cheesy production and the watering down of vitality by commercial concerns. These two releases thankfully go in the opposite direction. Basic Channel minimal techno/dub pioneer Mark Ernestus wisely chooses to showcase the exhilaration and merciless groove of 20 of Senegal's top players in two releases from the Ndagga label. Ernestus is no stranger to the strengths of contemporary African music, having remixed Fela Kuti's drummer, Tony Allen, and Konono #1's crazed kalimba-through–crispy-P.A. onslaughts. 800% Ndagga's mix brings the percussion to the forefront, with bass and drum kit occupying the familiar reggae space while guitars chant in the background. The vocals ride effortlessly, and lazily, over the almost unbearably ferocious percussion workouts, through songs reminiscent of everyone from King Sunny Ade to Baaba Maal (who appears on this CD) and even Fela Kuti — Afrobeat meets Mbalax. The Ndagga Versions presents dub remixes of the songs, but they are of a very subtle to somewhat innocuous nature, sometimes throwing in train wreck edits and vocal delay. This Versions mix is less a radical King Tubby throwdown then a thoughtful reworking of the original instrumental tracks. These two releases constitute a stunning work of collaboration between the incredible collective virtuosity of the musicians and the acute, sympathetic ear of a stellar producer. (Ndagga)