Kathleen Johnson

Rhythms of the Grasslands: Music of Upper Volta, Vol. 2

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Another in many stellar field recordings from the Nonesuch label, Rhythms of the Grasslands features several folk selections taped in Upper Volta (the country's name was changed to Burkina Faso after a revolution led by Thomas Sankara in 1984). All 11 cuts were recorded on location between 1973-'75, and cover a wide range of musical styles and cultures. Along with a heavy dose of incredible percussion-centered sides featuring pressure and cylindrical drums, the album also includes mesmerizing vocal workouts and a few offerings variously featuring thumb piano, the tutu harp-lute, and the soko one-string fiddle. The sound quality is very good, and the music stunning.