Badenya are the Coulibaly Brothers (three of them), a niece, and a nephew; all of them descendents from an ancient griot (oral historian) family from Burkina in Faso in West Africa. The group's songs are all composed along original themes utilizing a vast array of percussion instruments and singing/chanting voices. As the polyrhythms kick off the songs, choruses of voices begin to chant along those rhythms, and one set of lyrics is traded for another in either single lines or entire verses. The voices act as counterpoint and create their own microtonal kind of polyrhythm. All of this is made more complex by the wedding of traditional song structures being altered by certain modern instruments, such as the use of keyboards that are used subtly and effectively. The keyboards create another harmonizing voice that stands apart from the rhythms, carrying their atmospherics to the listener in a bevy of shades and colors. They add not cinematic effect, but dynamic texture to already lushly illustrated music. Badenya are tight; their folk music is arranged and far from ossified. In fact, their airily woven sensibilities and their use of modern instruments to supplant their sophisticated acoustic percussion techniques are ingenious. They lose nothing in the translation but instead go the next step by furthering their tradition and musical heritage for another generation. This recorded document of 12 songs is an hour of music that illustrates the musical development of a culture that most otherwise would not understand. Badenya's Freres Coulibaly Séniwè is a gift indeed.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek