Album Review

Savannah Rhythms: Music of Upper Volta [coll] – [Elektra/ Asyum/ Nonesuch Records]

ArtCrimes   9/11/2008   12-inch, International

A Nonesuch Explorer release of field recordings done in the nation now known as Burkina Faso. Western African instruments such as the balafon (gourd marimba) are heard here, but this music is distinct from the styles heard in neighboring countries like Mali and Niger, where the multi-stringed kora is often the featured instrument. Instead we hear a single string bow, as well as flutes, and the orchestrated percussion that is vital throughout Africa. Call and response vocals are featured on some tracks, some with Islamic content. And praise songs written for specific individuals are also included, another tradition heard throughout the African continent, serve as tributes to local heroes or benefactors. These recordings give you a sense of being there, walking through a land rich in musical culture. So get your feet dirty!

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