Donso means hunter in Bambara, a Mande language spoken in West Africa. It’s also the self-titled debut album that could be one of the best records of the year. Combining hard hitting broken beats, laid down by French producer Krazy Baldhead, with Bambara vocals, sung by Malian vocalist Gedeon Papa Diarra, Donso creates a modern interpretation of Mande hunters’ music, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. The Donso N’Goni, or hunters’ harp, is employed extensively throughout the album as well, providing an interesting texture that seamlessly meshes with the electronic beats.
This album is a perfect example of African musicians’ bridging the gap between generations. Traditional instruments are paired with computer generated sounds. African traditionalists, keepers of their cultural artistic music and lore, partner with French producers. Combining tradition with modernity is a theme championed throughout this album, and the result is a totally inventive, dynamic sound.
Diarra’s voice is the perfect match for Krazy Baldhead’s beats. Diarra’s rhythmic presentation and bending vocal pitches compliment the polyrhythmic beats that push the album forward from song to song. Tala, or talking drum, rhythms, electric guitars, and bass lines also contribute to deep textures and soundscapes. Certain songs are downtempo, exploratory tracks, while others are hard-driving, danceable compositions. Certain songs are less “produced” more traditional sounding, while others have a decidedly club feel.
This album will definitely catch your ear. All artists involved in the project display a strong desire to explore new mediums and styles, to create something original and unique. They’ve succeeded in that endeavor and created an album that will provide DJ’s ammunition for their club sets, as well as inspiration for aspiring African artists and collaborators to draw from traditional sources to create something entirely new and modern.
–Marc Gabriel Amigone