Various Artists

Africa: Anthology of the Music of Chad, Vol. 3: Populations Islamisees

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There were three albums released in this French label's series of recordings from the musically industrious country of Chad. The last in the series collects the activities of people from the Baguirmi, Guera, Salamat, Kanem, and northern Mayo-Kebbi peoples, all collected together due to belonging to the Islamic sphere of influence. As is typical in such cultures, the work of making music is left largely to professional musicians, who, like their counterparts in the West, establish star reputations and fan followings. Calling these players professional doesn't mean the record company is willing to identify them by name on all the tracks, nor does it mean those tracks are better than the non-professional tracks that made up the first two volumes in this series. Quite in fact, there really is nothing on this volume that is quite as stunning as some of the pieces from the other sets, but considering how remarkable those recordings are, it might be too much to expect three volumes in a row. There is some material here that comes pretty close anyway, especially the horn music that goes into marathon overtime on the second side. The combination of boudoougou, gangua, and bandil drumming, and a flute duo featuring two small metal instruments called baya that comprise the second track of Barma music, is also really gorgeous. It is played to encourage canoeists and has proven to be encouraging to a variety of other useful activities as well. The flute and drum orchestra that plays the Arab Salamat music is equally impressive, but the record really begins to take off with the second side and the Kanembou music, featuring the oboe-like instrument called a ghaita. The marvelous photographs that illustrate the set's booklet feature a photo of the ghaita player Abakar Moustapha, and he looks and sounds like he means business. Put the ghaita together with the long tin trumpets called gochi for the final track, which will have apartment-dwelling neighbors pounding the walls in no time at all, perhaps even in appreciation. And if the latter is the case, it is because one's neighbor is a fan of world music who has been waiting to find recordings that allow some of these performances to run on for more than a few minutes. There has always been the classic dichotomy between shortish tracks that are supposed to represent music from long, involved rituals, for example. In this case, although not making up for every overly abbreviated field recording ever released, the 13-minute-plus length is certainly more than appreciated. The Chad set is also available as a three-record box set.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick