Malang Mane

Balanta Balo: Talking Wood of Casamance

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Malang Mane is the leading player of the balofon in the area around Casamance. Village Pulse captured him, without the usual accompanying clappers or rattles (to bring out the balofon better) on Balanta Balo. The Balanta balofon (actually called the kadj) is larger than the usual West African balofon, and uses a second player to cover the full range of the instrument. The album has some remarkable works of music on it. "Sanya M'baye Guen" tells the story of a griot by that name who was falsely imprisoned for five years, with vocals sounding much like any Manding griot song (which the Balanta people have taken up to some degree after migrating to Casamance). "Diamano Bifoula" honors a pair of dancers with balofon playing that mimics dance rhythms. While this album might not hold the same excitement as others in the Village Pulse series, this is due simply to the style of music presented. Malang Mane is not here to provide dance rhythms on drums as most of the others are, he is here to provide griot works on the softer, melodic balofon. The works are quite well done, making use of counterpoint and syncopation as well as the vocals that add to any good griot work from West Africa. The album is definitely worth listening to, and anyone with a leaning toward griots should give it a listen.

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