25 January 2019 (released)
19 December 2018
Since 2007’s ‘Segu Blue’ a new release by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba has been an event, something to be celebrated, and this one is no different – frankly, it is superb.
‘Miri’ – Contemplation or Dream in the Bamana langue - sees a change for Kouyate, moving back to a sound much closer to ‘Segu Blue’ than the funked up and electrified ‘Ba Power’ of 2015. The music has a feeling of looking inward deeply and is almost a re-imagining of his life and career. The pure ngoni sound is very much the heart of his music alongside the mesmerising vocals of Amy Sacko and there is a feeling of the original Griot about this album.
As usual, the playing is incredible. He takes an ngoni – a lute like cross between a guitar and a cricket bat – and creates complex riffs and rills that draw the listener in to the music. It seems and sounds simple but there is incredible layered complexity to the music as it builds. The sound isn’t forced but you find yourself following the multiple rhythms and strands of the music in a natural way as each pushes forward into your consciousness.
As with every album he has produced so far, there is some wonder to be had at the pure musicality of this deceptively simple instrument but Kouyate pushes the envelope even further than usual by playing bottleneck slide on one track – ‘Wele Ni’ – creating a sound that is reminiscent of the best Japanese Koto players.
Through the album he touches on crucial themes such as friendship, family, climate change and the various crises in Mali and this definitely influences the feel and inward view but the music still moves your soul and he always makes something that will take you deeply into his.
Bassekou Kouyate is not a prolific musician but every thing he has produced thus far is of an incredible quality and this album continues his legacy. Magnificent.