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Massa Dembele - Mezana Dounia (Izniz)

Recorded in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, in the eastern region of Mali, this relatively short album, just eight compositions rendered in about 30 minutes, bears all the hallmarks of the enchanting traditional music of the jeli, whilst playing the kora-like kamala n'goni, not normally associated with the griot music tradition. The abundance of trance-like n'goni flurries, together with Demele's rich falsetto, notably on the opening title song, Mezana Dounia, augmented by Dembele's own percussion, captures our attention and imagination from the start. There's something relaxed about Dembele's fluid playing, which is at once meditative, contemplative and almost spiritual in feel. The thirty minutes of playing time, although too short for this kind of music, is easily remedied by repeat plays.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky