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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Issa Bagayogo

By Ernest Barteldes
Published September 18, 2008

Mali Koura
Six Degrees Records

This Malian's inspiring story of hard times, addiction and recovery would make for a great back story even if the music was below par, but as usual this is not the case. On his fourth disc since reinventing his career in the mid-90s, Bagayogo continues to expertly mix elements of dub, funk and electronica into traditional West African music. One tune that immediately grabs your attention is “Tcheni Tchemakan,” a ballad with subtle jazz touches via the piano and brass arrangement. Another highlight is “Filaw,” an uptempo tune that is sure to be hitting World-friendly dancefloors thanks to its careful mix of electronic and organic beats. Also worth checking out is “Poye,” which best showcases the interaction between Bagayogo's six-string ngoni (a kora-like instrument) and Mama Sissoko's electric guitar.