Music Review



Home Reviewers






Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba



I speak fula


Release date: 21 September 2009


On CD, double vinyl and download


Released on Out Here Records (UK Distribution: Proper)









A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!


One of the pleasures of connecting to a World Music artist you’ve never, ever heard before, is the sheer joy of linking into something which somehow, in turn, connects you to something universal. Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate is one such artist, and his second release, I speak fula is somehow, both delightfully refreshing to a formerly unacquainted ear such as mine, and at the same time, warmly familiar to something deep within the region of the heart.

Much of the material in this stunningly beautiful, accomplished collection, apart from the lone traditional number, ‘Bambugu blues,’ was written by self-styled ngoni master Kouyate, and because the songs are largely, autobiographical, listeners are also afforded a window into the world behind the music they are listening to and thankfully, at least in my case, also effortlessly, feeling.

From the first moments of this compelling collection, the listener succumbs to the heady experience of sharing Kouyate and his mesmerising band’s expansive, experimental space. Kouyate’s wife, Amy Sacko performs sublimely blending vocals amid the interwoven, multi-textural landscape of the title track, ‘I speak fula’ and the subconscious liaison is complete. I found the opening track so captivating, that I was well hooked into the beauty and seduction of the Kouyate experience long before track two, the vibrantly mesmerising ‘On Jamana be diya’ began. Track three, the exhilaratingly paced ‘Musow – for our women’ features some wonderfully passionate singing and equally searing musicianship. Torin, torin – tune number four is sunny enough to chase away the darkest weather and the deepest blues. While the aforementioned ‘Bambugu Blues’ the recording’s lone traditional number is set to become an instantaneous classic in the jukebox of your mind. And so on...One phrase I have never, ever used when referring to any other album, by anyone, anywhere.

In case you haven’t already guessed, something funny happened to me fairly early on during my second listen to this intoxicating collection - I surrendered. Surrendered to its colourful nuances, its relentlessly pulsating undercurrents and yes, even to the occasional, intermittent post modernist pastiches enacted through some of its solos and individual riffs. And I’m very glad I did.

For Kouyate and his group perform their material with all of the conviction of those determined to hang onto their integrity, whatever its language.
UK tour
21 October – LONDON Jazz Cafe
22 October – MANCHESTER – Band On the Wall
23 October – GATESHEAD – The Sage
24 October – LEEDS – Howard Assembly Room
28 October – BRIGHTON – Komedia
29 October – BRISTOL – St. Georges
30 October – GUILDFORD – University Hall
31 October – PEEL, ISLE OF MAN – Centenary Hall



Editor’s note: Kouyate’s debut album, Segu Blue (2007) was as lauded as this exciting new release promises to be.





Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved




Home Reviewers