Various Frikyiwa, Collection 2

It's usually best to tread with extreme caution where Euro-hybrids of Western electronica music and world music are concerned. As often as not, they seem to wind up treating their source music as little more than samples, calculated to give an exotic flavouring to bland, over-produced electro-pop or some manner of ambient dance drivel. You know who you are. Fortunately, in French producer Frederic Galliano, we have one of the most astute producers on the continent masterminding this second instalment of remixes of some of Mali's finest groups and singers. While his role here, as with Frikyiwa 1, is more akin to artistic director than producer, Galliano proves himself again to have an extremely sensitive ear and a profound respect for his source material, and that respect cuts two ways. He takes great care to steer clear of the trap of trying to make Malian music somehow more intelligible or accessible to a Western audience that would rather be listening to the Chemical Brothers by splashing beats and keyboards all over it. And Galliano also thinks highly enough of the Malian masters at hand not to treat them like pristine museum pieces that can't withstand a little cross-pollination. What Galliano and his team of producers - including Pole, Catalyst, Llorca, DJ Spider, I.G. Culture and Natty Bass Sound System - have here as a result is a work of great intuition. No seams are audible between the Malians, whether they're a young band like Neba Solo or a traditional singer like Djigui, and the blended sounds, whether they're a pulsing deep house mix or an even deeper dub treatment. Little sounds out of place, and if Frikyiwa 2 is a little less stunning than its predecessor, that's only because it carries less of the shock of the new, since the first Frikyiwa cleared the path so boldly. (Six Degrees)