Various Africa Remix — Ah Freak Iya

Africa Remix is the musical counterpoint to a travelling art exhibition of the same name. The intent is to demonstrate how African musical ideas have influenced pan-American and European forms, then remixed back into African music of the new millennium. This kind of compilation is almost impossible to get right. It’s a balancing act between geographical regions, genders, locally and internationally known artists, and more folk-ish versus more pop-oriented tunes. This leads back to some of the best known African artists such as Youssou N’Dour, Mory Kante and Oumou Sangare, all of whom combine the above elements into their music. Lesser known fusionists worthy of note are the amazing Malouma (from Mauritania) whose 12-bar blues context make her swirling Sarahan sound powerful and accessible, and Mariem Hassen & Leodad from Algeria who produce a similar effect. For those who haven’t picked up the Konono #1 album yet, "Paradiso” is a highlight here. On the whole, the compiled-by-committee feeling of the compilation is less interesting than the superb art represented in the booklet. (The compilation works well enough, but isn’t substantially different from Putumayo’s "Groove” series, which plumbs lesser known artists. Similarly, Six Degrees’ African Travels series of a few years ago had a more futuristic edge to it, which may have suited this artwork even better.) Africa Remix may be a good place to start for those whose interest in African music may have been sparked by its under-representation at Live 8. (Milan)