Touré Kunda

Casamance au Clair de Lune

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Casamance au Clair de Lune is the most "roots"-oriented album issued by the Senegalese band Touré Kunda, and one of their very best. Dispensing with the occasionally kitschy pop and funk arrangements that diluted many of their prior and subsequent efforts, they succeeded in fashioning a recording brimming with the life of West Africa while still sounding unmistakably modern. There are several percussion interludes (such as "Manoir") that one wishes could go on forever, so infectious are the rhythms and varieties of tones. Similarly for the balafon accompaniment to "Amadou Tilo," an homage to their recently deceased brother Amadou Toure; its timeless quality and bubbling exuberance are utterly entrancing. What the pieces may lack in pop-song catchiness, they easily make up for in depth and serious beauty. The intertwining vocals, perfect counterparts to the intense percussion, reveal a depth of tradition and appreciation for Senegalese music's place in the contemporary pantheon that is stirring and convincing. The only real complaint one can make about this album is its brevity. But any listener interested in hearing some of the finest modern West African music both largely devoid of pop influence and at the same time decidedly new could do much worse than to start here. Highly Recommended.

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