Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power (Glitterbeat Records)
Esteemed Afro-rocker releases his latest album.
There can be no doubt that Bassekou Kouyate means business on his new album. Moving on from Afro-funk to Afro-rock, Ba Power (literally meaning Great Power) is by his own admission the hardest sounding album he’s made.
His playing seems to have taken on new forces, new meaning and opening track Siran Fen is a powerhouse of a track from the opening seconds. The almost manic playing is controlled yet frenzied and really does take the man up to a new level. Already one of Africa’s premier global artists his CV is impressive to say the least with award upon award being bestowed his way. His last album, Jama Ko was named Best World Music album of 2013 and Ba Power can do little but threaten to emulate the success.
With guest appearances from Samba Toure (who plays lead guitar on Fama Magni), Dave Smith (current drummer with Robert Plant) and avant-garde jazz legend Jon Hassell, Kouyate seems to have extracted the finest musicianship from not only himself but everyone involved.
Amy Sacko provides some quite stunning vocals, not least on Abe Sumaya where her tones are as commanding as any other instrument that plays alongside. Often grasping the song by the scruffs and forcing it to reach even higher. Aye Sira Bla beautifully exhibits the sound of the ngoni as it skips then screeches through a traditional sounding song, and Borongoli Ma Kununban slowly ascends from a subtle intro to a gargantuan cacophony of guitar sounds mainstream and habitual.
Waati features Adama Yalomba on lead vocals. A prolific name on the Bamako club circuit he is best known for his forays into Afro-pop and provides a more recognisable sound before Fama Magni provides a hypnotic interlude.
Recorded in late 2014, Ba Power is a true family affair featuring entirely Sons, Brothers, Nephews and spouses at the original sessions. Kouyate has this time looked beyond Mali for musicians and influence where trumpet, drum kit and electric guitar are used extensively for the first time.
On album closer Bassekouni we are treated to three and a half minutes of instrumental Blues which seems to perfectly end the collection of rock, jazz and Afro. Ba Power is a great album and probably Kouyate’s finest to date deserving all the accolade that it will surely attract.
Bassekou Kouyate website
Bassekou Kouyate on Twitter
Bassekou Kouyate on Facebook
Bassekou Kouyate on hiapop Blog
Jama Ko album review
Samba Toure on hiapop Blog
John Hassell on hiapop Blog
Published on Louder Than War 3/05/15 - here