At Afropop, we’ve been big fans of Bassekou Kouyaté since way back. Born into Mali’s venerable griot tradition of musicians and storytellers, Bassekou is a virtuoso of the ngoni, a West African lute that can roughly be described as the great-granddaddy of the banjo. In recent years, Bassekou has put together a powerhouse band that successfully pulls that rich heritage together with modern influences and his own personal innovations to make what is, quite simply, some of the best rock music you’ll hear anywhere.
Bassekou’s fourth and most recent album, Ba Power, came out about a month ago, and if anything, he seems to only be getting better. Ba, in the Bambara language, means “strong” or “great” and it also means “group.” You can certainly feel the ba power of the musicians on this album, feeding off each other’s energy to make something far greater than the sum of its parts. Ngoni Ba is a family affair, including Bassekou’s two sons on bass and tenor ngoni and featuring his wife, Amy Sacko, on lead vocals. The driving rhythms and deliciously distorted electric ngonis make this a truly exhilarating listen. Afropop and Glitterbeat Records are offering an exclusive download of a taster track,”Siran Fen,” which showcases Amy Sacko’s formidable voice. Play this on a rainy Monday afternoon instead of going for a fourth cup of coffee. You’ll wake up in no time.