Despite a career reaching back to the early 1980s, Super Onze de Gao is just now unfurling their second worldwide release. It’s Afropop’s honor to present it here for the first time.
Recorded in Bamako, Mali, Jo Kanga Djiribi still has plenty of the buzz and grit that makes their circulating bootleg cassettes so arresting. Over the takamba beat on the calabashes, the electrified ngonis flicker out melodic fragments, clashing and chasing each other and Issa Toure’s vocal lines to the point of hypnosis.
Tuareg guitar music may get a lot of attention—it is of course, fantastic—but this release points to a musical history without the electric guitar, what you would hear at weddings or child-naming ceremonies in and around Gao. Little of this music has made it out of the area, except on pirate cassette tapes. But Super Onze, the “Takamba champions of the Niger bend” suspects–and we have to agree–that there’s an audience for this music outside of their West African home.