Issa Bagayogo Tassoumakan

It’s been a long time coming for the potential team of Issa Bagayogo and French electronica producer Yves Wernert to be realised. The n'goni player from Mali and Wernert first teamed up on Sya, which Six Degrees picked up and distributed throughout the world. Between that album and the efforts of Frederic Galliano, African house started to swing more towards an emphasis on 6/8 rhythms and away from "Afro-garage.” However, Bagayogo's efforts always seemed to be steered primarily to a dance floor thump where there might have been a richer vocabulary of sounds and grooves. On Tassoumakan, both the production and the songwriting have improved. The mood has shifted down and there's a wider range of sounds and keyboard textures, so that the whole thing doesn't sound quite so techno-driven. Oddly enough, Bagayogo’s hunter’s chants fit quite well with slow jam production. "Kanou” is all languid piano and double time kick drums, while another slow boiler, "Djigui,” is an electronic update of the sound of Cooder/Toure’s Talking Timbuktu. Is Kanye available for the remix? Other production touches pay off: Bagayogo’s recitations are filtered and panned all over the place, at different points sounding like soliloquies or rhythmic background. "Kalan Nege” is indicative of the North Saharan touches that grace this record as well. Altogether, there are many more ways in which to appreciate Tassoumakan than any of his previous records. (Six Degrees)