Super Rail Band De Bamako

Kongo Sigui

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Mali's Super Rail Band are the stuff of African legend, certainly one of the most-revered groups ever to emerge from the continent, with guitarist and leader Djelimady Tounkara finally deified as one of the world's guitar heroes. It's a status he cements on Kongo Sigui, if only for his work on "Dakan," where he spirals the excitement higher and higher. But while he's the focus and famous name of the band, it's worth remembering that he's only one member of the group -- something he seems to understand more than his fans. And, as on most of their albums, they're a very electric outfit ("Sory" being the unplugged exception, where two guitars and some dizzying kora work interlace beautifully). With four singers -- two lead, two backing -- the voices offer potent power, which comes to the fore on the aching "Tunga," while the rhythm section offers a strong fluidity that still manages to leave plenty of space for all the musicians -- which they use well. There is, naturally, a pair of praise songs, "Sada Diallo" and "Balla Moussa Keita," and the Mande mood that's been the Rail Band's hallmark for over 30 years is still in full, positive effect. They may not release new albums too often, but when they do, they make it count. Like all their work, this is vital.

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