Saturday, May 12, 2007

Music I Liked And Didn't - 5/12/07

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V/A: Bougouni Yaalali CD (Yaala Yaala) - Yaala Yaala is a new imprint from Drag City that focuses on world music. They recently launched the label with a trio of releases of music from West Africa, from which I selected the one which appeared to be most interesting, “Bougouni Yaalali”.

All that is revealed by the minimal liner notes is that the material on this CD was recorded at various social events in the rural town of Bougouni, Mali (hence the disc’s title, which apparently translates to “wandering around Bougouni”), obviously on some form of hand-held device. After that, you’re left to rely on your senses to derive any additional information regarding these recordings, as there are no artists, instruments, nor track titles listed! These unknown musicians use percussion (created on all manner of instruments such as djembe, nkerinye, home made metal shakers, and so on), hypnotic figures plucked on, I suspect, the ngoni (usually, again, a home made multi-stringed spike lute made out of wood or gourds), and vocals (sometimes in a more Arab-influenced style, other times displaying attributes associated with traditional West African vocal styles) to create these excellent authentic African folk grooves! Even with a lifetime of exposure to “lo-fi” recordings (having seen it develop into an aesthetic, instead of merely being a pleasing sonic byproduct of financially challenged musicians!), I can’t deny that the music on this release would benefit from a variety of improvements in the documentation process. Nevertheless, the music contained on this CD provides another intriguing and unique (and very much appreciated!) sonic snapshot of a remote and relatively unknown region’s musical culture for the continuing enlightenment of audio-ethnographers (like me!) everywhere.

With “Bougouni Yaalali”, Yaala Yaala is off to an excellent start and I’m going to check out additional titles from the label’s catalog soon.

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Running Count For The Year

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Did Not Add 14/18%

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