Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
★★★★ Miri OUT HERE. CD/DL/LP
Back to basics for Mali’s ngoni master.
AFTER TWO albums of scuzzed-up distortion befitting any Sub Pop alumnus, Bassekou Kouyate dispenses with trickery and returns to his studio in Mali to think about (the title track translates as ‘contemplation’) the state of his nation. With his wife, Ami Sacko, on vocals and his son, Madou, on bass ngoni, he laments the problems currently tearing the country apart (war, money, jealousy) and cherishes what is worth holding on to; on Yakare, he pays tribute to his recently deceased mother; Habib Koite and Afel Bocoum guest, as if to remind the star about his roots, while others (Michael League, Dom Flemons) hint at how far he has travelled since he first played Europe, 30 years ago. In 2019 terms, then, it’s a Village Green Preservation Society for people whose village is on the banks of the (alarmingly diminished) Niger river.