Mali Koura

by: Issa Bagayogo

For his fourth outing, Mali's Bagayogo, aka Techno Issa, relies less on the dancefloor for his music, and aims more for the head. It's a definite change, but one that advances his music by leaps and bounds, adding touches of jazz to "Dunu Kan," for instance, or bringing shadows into the sound on "Namadjidja." He hasn't completely abandoned the feet as "Fimani" shows, but this is definitely a more exploratory side of the man, working alongside longtime producer Yves Wernert. There's a definite maturity about everywhere, whether it's Bagayogo's singing, now more assured and emotional than ever, or his n'goni playing, which is concise and pointed. It's more organic, the basic tracks recorded out in the open, and the songs themselves have grown, bringing in horns ("N'Tana"). But it's the spirit of jazz that floats across the album, echoing through "Dibi" and the surprisingly Western-sounding "Tcheni Tchemakan." With Mali Koura Techno Issa takes a quantum leap. ~ Chris Nickson

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