Etoile 2000

Etoile 2000

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After the split of Etoile de Dakar, guitarist Badou Ndiaye and singer El Hadji Faye formed Etoile 2000 and recorded this incredible album (originally released on cassette in 1980). Taking mbalax to a psychedelic extreme, complete with reverb-laden vocals, relentless percussion, and heavily flanged guitar, Etoile 2000 was unlike anything Senegalese music had produced to date. The opening track, "Boubou N'Gary," is easily a classic of the genre. Hard and driving, with Faye's keening Wolof vocals singing an ancient story of the Fula herdsmen, it is the best song on the album and serves as an appetite whetter for the remaining five tracks. Aside from the rhumba-tinged "El Carretero" and "Karim," the other songs feature the same beat and intensity established with "Boubou N'Gary." "Ninety Noon" sounds like an edit of a jam session that proved to be fortuitous. "Sama Xarit" begins with the rhythm section and gradually builds to a frenzy of voice, guitar, and drums. The final song, "Yaye Tima," features guitars so dense and a tempo so fevered, it's easy to picture the sweaty Dakar garage where the album was recorded. The 1996 Dakar Sound CD features fidelity that belies the source tapes, but doesn't diminish the music's power. The liner notes and packaging aren't particularly illuminating, but that just draws the listener's attention to what matters -- the music. This is an essential purchase for fans of mbalax and other forms of sub-Saharan African pop.