Kasumai

Senegal Urban Rhythms

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It speaks volumes that the leader of Senegalese band Kasumai, Sagar N'Gom, has been a member of both Outback and Baka Beyond. A similar sense of adventure colors this disc. While much of the instrumentation is traditional -- percussion, xalam, and kora -- there's also an electronic element. But if you're thinking downtown Dakar and the mbalax style made popular by Youssou N'Dour, think again. This is the music of another city, Casamance (although actually recorded in the south of England!), and a very spiritual disc at that, with songs from and about five different religions, from the established Christians and Muslims to the more local Wolof and Jola, touching several bases in between. Is it a success? Yes and no. The ambition is excellent, but unfortunately Senegal Urban Rhythms exceeds its grasp a bit too often to really work.

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