February 06, 2012


I've been cut off from the internet for a few days. Nothing to do with the copyright mobsters; I suppose it was just my internet provider's way of reacting to the cold spell we are experiencing here in the low countries.

So there is some catching up to do.

What better way to do so than to jump in at the deep end.
In this case into the music of the Fulani or Pular of the Foutah Djallon (or Fuuta Jaloo) in Guinée. This is one of those cassettes of which one suspects the (real) owner of the copyright has long forgotten about its existence. No cover, no details about the circumstances in which the recordings were made, the titles a mess*. So lots to fantasise, plenty to fill in....

The name on the cassette is "Farbatela", but I suppose this must be "Farba Téla". This is a qualification rather than a name. "Farba", according to Justin Morel, is a top ranking griot (or gawlo) in the Fouta, while "téla" means what it sounds like in english: "tailor". It is also the nickname of a singer and player of the kérôna (a type of lute, - examples of which can be heard here).
The names of the musicians are mentioned in the first song of the cassette, after about two minutes. My familiarity with the language is insufficient to deduce the full names, but there are one or two members of the Sow family, a Dabola and two Barry's, one of which - Mamadou - may very well be the same as the Mamadou Barry playing in the fourth track of the CD "Les Nyamakala du Fouta Djallon" (still available). In fact, it is possible that this is in essence the same group as the one playing in that track.

Except that in this cassette they are playing the rough version.
Because I think I should add a word of warning: this music is right on the very edge.

The singer with a voice that could cut through steel, a brilliant but unstoppable (electric) guitarist and an instrument which could very well be a modern version of the kérôna I mentioned before creating a rhythmic wall to lean against.

My current favourite on this cassette is "Diari", but this is one of those cassettes that will last you a lifetime.

cassette 7455 (1987)

* It has taken me years to fit the titles with the songs, as they appeared to be in a random order. I am still missing one...


Jaime said...

Wonderfully mysterious post. I'm so glad your blog extists. Thank you.

reservatory said...

Beautiful, and a side of Guinée I know nothing about. THANKS.

Sun Ira said...

I just broke this one out and was really digging it. I was able to trace it back to you and wanted to offer my thanks for a lovely Sunday afternoon delight. Thanks for all you do and have done.