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Issa Bagayogo: Mali Koura blends Electronica with African Roots

img  Tobias
The story of Issa Bagayogo certainly comes with a bittersweet rock n roll flavour attached to it. Failing to make it in Mali, he had to revert to bus driving for a living, loosing himself for years in a drug-drenched depression. His recovery, however, was impressive: Doing away with narcotics, he moved to Mali’s capital Bamako and rented a professional studio. There, he realised the sessions that would later become his first official album, Sya”. It turned into an international success and allowed him to do what he enjoys most: Playing live and touring.

For “Mali Koura”, Issa Bagayogo has tried to move away from mere fusion to a completely unique and unified style. ”On tracks like "Tcheni Tchemakan" there is a seamless blend of circular chord structure, call-and-response vocals (the lyrics sung in Wolof, of course), a relentlessly chugging, house-derived rhythm, and the subtlest touches of electronic texture filling in some of the spaces”, Six Degrees Records describe the feeling of Issa’s new sound, “Even the gently lurching and completely non-European rhythm of "Dibi" somehow absorbs and embraces the extended jazz chords and guitar runs that weave through the song like a silvery thread.”

According to Producer Yves Wernert, a long-time ally of Issa Bagayogo, the change is down to a drastically different approach to the production phase: “For this new album, Issa recorded the songs freely on his own, all by himself outside of my house in Bamako – once in a while you can hear birds or mopeds going by. All of the Malian instruments were recorded more or less the same way, either outside the house or in my kitchen."

And then, of course, there’s “Mali Koura”’s strong list of guests, including flutist Ba Diallo (a regular with the National Ensemble of Mali), French guitarist Pascale Hubert (of Double Nelson fame) and djembe player Adama Diarra ). All in all, it looks like Issa Bagayogo will have a combustible program for when he decides to hit the road again in the foreseable future.

Homepage: Issa Bagayogo
Homepage: Six Degrees Recordings

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