Africa Djolé

Basikolo - Né Né: Percussion Music From Africa

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

In the accompanying liner notes, German writer Hans Rempel makes a compelling case for how much is left out of non-African observers' listening experience of this music, which has its origins in the non-musical aspects of the lives of the people not only playing it, but hearing it, in their indigenous lands. And to a degree he's right: This deeply moving drumming and chanting, offering narratives and instructions between the drums and the callers to one another and outward into the hearts of people, is largely lost on non-Africans (at least the intricacies of their meanings), who have no idea what beats or chants are for weddings, funerals, circumcisions, coming of age ceremonies, hunting and gathering parties, washing dishes, cooking, and so on. He claims that one has to have an open mind to even be able to encounter this music at all. That part's crap, and spoken like a true guilty European. The truth is, the drum and chant music made by Fodé Youla and Africa Djolé is accessible to nearly all inhabitants of the global village for the simple reason that, like it or not, everyone conducts their lives to rhythm on some level. The actual rites don't matter; the feelings those rites evoke -- by the drums and chants -- do. Basikolo - Né Né is a hypnotic record to be sure, but it is more of a soul record. The drums walk around the body for a very long time before entering it, burrowing down into the heart of hearts of listeners' own personal countries and allowing the chants to inform listeners on how to react: to move or even stay still. Of all the drum records out there, this is the purest, the most undressed and naked, offering the drum as its own sacrifice and the chant -- no matter what it says -- as a prayer, a balm for the weary postmodern mind. So you don't have to open up anything for this music to touch you; just show up, put it on, and relax -- the drum is the medicine, the chant is the nurse, and your heart is the doctor. Together they are unbeatable.

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