June 19, 2011


I have asked (the now unfortunately late) Daouda 'Flani' Sangaré about the labelling of this album. And he agreed that "Rythmes du Wassoulou" only partly covers the music he and his friend Alou Fané recorded. Both Flani's and Alou's roots lie in an area just to the east of the Wassoulou. Alou has indicated that he was influenced mostly by the music of the hunters (donso n'goni), but Flani's influences are more diverse.

Compared to their first album (which I posted earlier) the second one has more of Flani than of Alou. Also the themes of their songs seem to get increasingly moral and theatrical. I assume their work with the Ballet National (see this post) had something to do with that.

As a member of the Ballet they were encouraged to do research. Flani told me that whenever he went to his native district he would go and talk to the elders, and would coax them - by gifts of cola nuts and some money - into telling him the tales and legends of the past. He was well aware that, until he would get to a certain age, they were not going to tell him the whole of these stories. And he assured me that he too did not use all of the information he had received...

The main inspiration for their songs came, however, from daily life. "You in Europe sing about the moon and the sun. You can sing about anything as long as it sounds okay", commented Flani when I first interviewed him. "But we have to have a reason to sing a song. The song has to reflect reality, either the reality of today or that of the past. Suppose I would sing about the moon, people would come up to me and ask me what I mean."

Both daily life and the theatrical were obviously present in the song which became their biggest 'hit' ever: "Keleya". The song is about the jealousy ("keleya") between co-épouses (co-wifes) in a polygamous marriage. When performing the song Flani would dress up as a woman, and would at times improvise to add to the comical effect of the song. The song was even recorded for television:

In the video, recorded in 1983, Alou is playing kamalen n'goni and Djourou Diallo flute. The song was later also recorded with the Djata Band, and was re-recorded by Flani, Alou and Djourou in 1995 1987 (see comments) in an austere London studio for the album of the same name which was released by Indigo (label Blue). An album which I - unfortunately - cannot recommend.

Besides "Keleya" the lp which I am sharing with you in this post contains a full palette of wonderful songs.
Starting with "Flédonkli", a song in which Alou and Flani alternately sing the lead. I just love the natural way in which they take turns, while staying in their own style. The two voices meet at the end.
The uptempo rhythm of "Flêlibana" certainly does not remind me of the music of the Wassoulou (apart from the very end, that is). Sung solo by Flani, this song appears to be inspired by a traditional (percussion?) style of Flani's Ganadougou district.

My favourite song on this lp is the last one of the A-side: "Ounhoun Koro". I know this was a favourite of Flani himself too, if only for the 'posé' rhythm (Flani was a sucker for posé rhytms; he loved Haruna Ishola). Alou's subtle ngoni playing is matchless in this song, adding to the posé effect. Flani's voice is full of deep emotion, while Alou's vocal is almost comforting behind him. I especially like the last thirty seconds, when they almost fade out the song, but without touching the volume.

"Mangoya" is perhaps the most Wassoulou style song of the album. It is sung in an almost monotonous singing style by Flani. I am sure this must be related to the lyrics.
You may recall the last song, "Koursigui Tan", from the tribute to Zani Diabaté. In this, the original version, Alou demonstrates that you can increase the tension by playing an apparently very stoic rhythm. I have heard several ngoni players trying to imitate this brilliantly understated style, but so far I have not heard anyone who can match Alou. I never cease to be amazed, by the way, by the timing of Flani in rejoining the song (after 4'07).
I will write about the lyrics of this song in a later post.

Ivoire Polydisc IP 8301

PS: I won't bore you with the technical challenges that have kept me from posting in the last few weeks.


bolingo69 said...

And I won't ask you, to add to your burdens! ;-)

Just let me say I was thinking about your absence and am very happy to see you back with another interesting post!

Bon chance worldservice!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stefan

good to see you back, with that nice post and all that knowledge about Alou and Daouda.

I wonder why Lucy Duran - in her 33 pages-text "Birds of Wasulu: freedom of expression and expression of freedom in the popular music of Mali" 1995 just speakes a single time about Alou, and hasn't got that green album (vol 2, 1983) nor the yellow one (vol 3, 1983) or vol 1 (1982, the one you posted earlier) in the discography.

Are Alou and Daouda not that important for Wasoulou music?? (which I think is not correct) - or Lucy Duran wants rather to focus to female Wassoulou singers, like Oumou Sangare, etc...

Otherwise, that pdf provides interesting insights in wasulu.


jan duinkerken said...

Thank you Stefan, for all that information and of course the music!
Greetings, Jan.

Anonymous said...

Always a pleasure to hear Daouda and Alou,I have heard (all ?) these songs before, I think that all come from the wassoulou folklore,trying to locate some song, but it takes some time.

While I still impatiently waiting for the translation you promised us.
Thanks again.

WrldServ said...

@Ngoni: Where did I promise a translation? And of which song(s)?

As I have pointed out in the post, I disagree that the source of these songs is in the 'folklore' of the Wassoulou.

Anonymous said...

Well,I read this post days ago and maybe my wishes have been merged with the promise to talk about the lyrics of Koursugui Tan.

Lately I have heard much Wassoulou folklore , of course I have not memorized, but something always gets in,hearing this album (many times) I have the feeling of having heard before.

Maybe Alou and Daouda songs have become folklore over time or were inspired by old ones.
If I find a song related will share soon.

WrldServ said...

@Nfoni: But writing about the lyrics isn't the same as translating...

"Koursigui Tan" was covered by Sine Sangaré and Awa Diarra. And most songs from these lp's were used in the Djata Band (mostly under a different title). I will get to this in a future post.

Anonymous said...

Hi, we miss you! Hope to see another post soon, I depend on you for my african music addiction!!!

Comaki said...

The worlds best blog seems to have slowed to a crawl. Please return to us and If not all the best in your adventures. You've been awesome these last three years.

BeHereNow said...

Hi Stefan,

I am writing to you for the first time. I wanted to thank you for the many hours of listening pleasure you have given me since I discovered your blog about a year ago. You have introduced me to Haruna Ishola, Amadou Balake, and countless other artists. I hope your absence is due to technical difficulties only. My wife and I miss you and hope all is well with you!

SimonBkoSwo said...


I do have the CD, which wasn't recorded in 1995 but in 1987. Aliou Fané died in 1994.
Thank you for your amazing blog.

WrldServ said...

@SimonBkoSwo: I too have this cd, and the cd released in 1995 under the name of Alou Fané's Fotemocoba.
I think this must have been where the mix-up started...

And I know Alou died in 1994. I was there when he left for Mali, leaving Paris where we (Alou and I) were staying at the home of Mah Damba and her (unfortunately also late) husband Mamaye Kouyaté.

A very sad memory.

Thanks for this correction.

Anonymous said...

I just needed to watch this again: his left hand does 90% of the job :)
Abraços, Fabricio