Slowly percolating dance-pop record speaks volumes—even if you’re not fluent in Italian, French or PulaarOn his first studio album in eight years, Senegalese star Baaba Maal teams with members of multilingual New York EDM group Brazilian Girls, blending the earthy ebb and flow of talking drums and djembes, and the crystal-woosh of ankle shakers with reverbed tremolo guitar, computer-generated bleeps and heavenly synth choirs. Television embodies the sound of the African future while simultaneously nodding over its shoulder at the pain, joy, suffering and beauty of the continent’s past.Listen to Baaba Maal on MySpace. .
Any album is a monologue, our chance to hear another person set up a theme and then elaborate on it. The other person is sometimes a group of people, but as a band they’re unified, and the thoughts we’re listening to are theirs, the opinions of a collective entity, and no one else’s. The Beatles is still the Beatles, no matter who was writing the songs.
Eight years on from the gentle and acoustic Missing You, Baaba Maal has at last recorded a new studio album, packed with messages aimed at Africa and new musical styles aimed at the western market. Dominated by the vocals and keyboards of Sabina Sciubba and Didi Gutman of New York electro-dance exponents Brazilian Girls, and the guitar work of former Compass Point star Barry Reynolds, it's a brave, unexpected set that veers between the brilliant and the occasionally dreadful. When the mixture works, it works very well indeed - as on the title track, which is based around a brilliantly infectious hook and builds like a classic pop song.
For years, well-intentioned labels and publicists pushed Africa as some single monolithic entity rather than a collection of diverse countries, each with its own diverse musical scene. These days, of course, things are slightly different. Music from Africa is getting collected, compiled, and re-introduced on a regular country-by-country or scene-by-scene basis.