Burkina Electric

Rêem Tekré

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Combine African music and highlife with modern dub, sampling, loops, and contemporary recording techniques, and you have Burkina Electric, but the story of their music goes beyond simple classifications. The core group is singer Mai Lingani and guitarist Wende K. Blass, who hail from Burkina Faso, dancers Hughes "As" Zoko and Idrissa "Vicky" Kafondo, originally from Austria, veteran German turntablist and producer Pyrolator, and drummer/percussionist/producer Lukas Ligeti, son of the legendary 20th century Austrian composer Gyorgy Ligeti. This double-CD contains "straight" takes of these multi-cultural fusions, and a series of remixes from various sources. The result is some infectious rave-up dance hall music ranging from chill and Afro-beat to some amazing mutations of tribal styles taken headlong into modern times. Certainly a youth-oriented acid jazz style with reverence for tradition, the group builds layer upon layer of sound, and at times strips it all away for more colorful veneers of new ideas. There are three versions of "Sankar Yaare," the first loaded up with beat, the typical vocal and guitar you hear in King Sunny Ade's music, with repeat phrases and electronically enhanced singers. The second take, remixed by DJ Spooky, is refined and edited, with more drums, guitar, and naturally layered singing, a surprising tack. The Mapstation remix is more dance-oriented with bass, industrial sounds, and acoustic shakers, electronically modified but not necessarily enhanced. "Mdole" features the 21-string kora along with clatter percussion and space, high-octave vocals, and slick guitar, then beat, but a redo by Rupert Huber features explosions in darkness and more space. The traditional "La Voix Du Boulgou" is mostly vocal but looped à la Steve Reich with thumpy bass and some space surfing, while it's counterpart, as served up by Badawi in an extreme spaced out upfront chant with backwards loops. Paul DeJong's remix of "To Mi to Zi" differs from the original take in its extreme, upfront, spaced-out vocals and backwards loops, as opposed to the heavy but still joyous exuberance of the first version. Ligeti is especially deserving of credit for conceiving and shaping this project into a larger-than-life ethnic and electronic fusion beyond compare. It's a bit on the short side time-wise for a CD two-fer, but full of excitement, intrigue, and elevated chemical electricity.

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