Pounding. One word can describe this Burundi drum ensemble. Of course, much drumming from Burundi is pounding, using massive drums and particularly thick and heavy sticks. Nonetheless, Ensemble Folklorique Batimbo groove, call, and pound their way through a series of traditional themes with an extra dose of energy. The songs are relatively standard fare in and of themselves, covering issues of traditional morality, wedding music, and a few pieces showing off the sacred nature of the drums. These latter works may be some of the most interesting items, related to the Umuganuro festival to varying degrees, wherein a massive collection of drums are brought upon a central location "praising" the royal master drum, Karyenda. Beyond the procession of drums though, the purpose of Drums of Burundi was primarily celebration of fertility and a pact of sorts between the Burundi and the earth (to ensure future fertility). The drums can be evocative of the larger themes here, with some notable call and response built in both vocally and instrumentally. Beyond this though, it's a nice example of the use of a drum ensemble as representative of larger powers. Musically, the album may get a bit repetitive as it goes on, but that's generally the case with all drum ensembles. The Drummers of Burundi (not to be confused with this group) have made a career of showcasing similar music on the Real World label for a reason -- it's compelling, powerful music.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg