July 18, 2010

Renaissance

Having just spent two weeks trying to recover files from a failing & angrily resisting hard disk, I am happy to report that most files have been saved. Only about 2% of the volume was lost.
So I now can get back to the business of sharing some of the forgotten and/or (almost) lost wonders of African (and latin) music with you. And in this case a cassette by a Guinean star who has been the subject of a post in November 2008: Mory Djeli Kouyaté, who used to be nicknamed "Dienne", but later changed this to "Deen".

In my earlier post I stated that Mory Djeli was from Kankan. It appears that this is incorrect: I am told he was born in Siguiri. But he did rise to stardom in the second town of Guinea, Kankan.

It appears to me that this cassette from 1993 was Mory Djeli's first attempt at a break-through on the international market. While the cassette from 1990 which I posted earlier was still devoid of the electronic interventions which seem to tipify recordings made in Parisian studios, this cassette seems to have been the first in which Mory Djeli cooperated with Jean-Philippe Rykiel. A cooperation which, unfortunately, seems to have continued right into the present day.

Personally I am no fan of Mr. Rykiel's meddlings in African music. One of the attractions of (a large part of) African music is the omission, the leaving out of the obvious, the rhythmical gaps, the unsuspected zeros. Mr. Rykiel's synthetic additions fill in these holes like a thick greasy mayonnaise, covering - and in some cases blocking - the subtle tastes of the African ingredients.

It has taken me quite a while to get over the Parisian production of this cassette. But after listening to truckloads of Parisian and Paris-influenced cassettes from west-african artists, my senses seem to have been blunted enough not to be annoyed or irritated by the rykielisation. I have trained my ears not to hear it....

And in hindsight, there have been many cassettes in which the Parisian production is far more pronounced. Even within Mory Djeli's oeuvre, this is one of the more modest productions. The balafon played by M'Mabou Camara and the - at times frenetic - ngoni of Garba Tounkara can still be discerned, and the female chorus sounds far less 'canned' than it does in other productions.
And then there is the winning element of this music: Mory Djeli's brilliant vocals. This man has a Voice.

My favourite songs on this cassette are "I Nagna", "Mory Nikala" and "Telemba". Songs with an enormous drive and with Mory Djeli's power vocals accentuating this drive. In the first track on the B-side pays homage to Amadou Toumani Touré, who at the time had handed back power to the civilian authorities after performing a coup d'état against Moussa Traoré in 1991.

Mory Djeli apparently has made friends in high places. When he fell ill a few years ago, he was sent to Morocco to recover by the then Guinean president Lansana Conté. More recently Mory Djeli, who seems to have acquired the nickname of "Bélébéléba de la musique guinéenne" ("Big - or literally: fat - man of Guinean music"), with his latest album "Sauvons La Guinée" ("Let's save Guinea") appears to have taken on the task of restoring order and peace in his home country.....

Sona Store Production 2091

As a bonus I am adding a track recorded live in Conakry (and broadcasted on Dutch radio some years ago), just to give you an idea of what Mory Djeli could sound like without the Parisian production....

Mory Djeli live

6 comments:

John B. said...

Thanks for posting this. Your mention of obnoxious Paris productions reminds me of the first time I heard Salif Keita's album "Soro," one of the most "overpimped" (to use your memorable term) African albums of all time. I remember thinking that the end was near for real African music, and I wasn't wrong. . .

NGONI said...

Happy Renaissance, I imagined you on vacation.

It appears this is the master of Soumaila Kanoute who sings in the same style.

The musicians seem Fantamady Kouyate on guitar and Lansine Kouyaté the balafon ?
Thanks.

Kostas from Greece said...

Welcome and many thanks...

david said...

I remember when London's World Music elite welcomed "Soro" with legs opened wide, and not a single creative French horn-sectioned recording has ever resulted.

david said...

Re: French horn sections in Paris productions. When paid to blow, instead they suck.

Spinning said...

that photo is strange, in that he seems to be holding a valiha (from Madagascar), or maybe a related instrument... can anyone verify?