Senegalese multi-instrumental percussionist Aiyb Dieng has been a regular contributor to albums by Bill Laswell and also to projects by Material, Laswell's constantly shifting avant funk supergroup. So it's only fair that Laswell should serve both as guest bassist and co-producer for Dieng's solo debut, and it's no surprise that they should enlist the help of various other Laswell buddies on the project -- bassist Bootsy Collins, guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, and keyboardist Bernie Worrell are all on board, and there's even a cameo by Last Poets alumnus Umar Bin Hassan. What is surprising, though, is the fact that a musician of Dieng's caliber was able to surround himself with such A-list colleagues and still turn out an album of such unrelieved tedium. "Saber" builds a nicely funky slow groove, but it loses steam halfway through its six-minutes-plus length; "Takou" is a bit briefer, but it's a drum solo and really should have been much briefer still; "Dungal Dub" makes veiled references to reggae but never goes anywhere with its themes. Overall, this is an album that had potential, but that never builds up the good head of steam that it needed in order to take off. Given the musicians involved, the fact that it failed to do so is pretty much inexcusable.
by Rick Anderson