Home Rec. Mamy Kanouté : Mousso Lou (SN/B,2014)****
When Wouter Vandenabeele introduced Mamy Kanouté on his Facebook page, via a small movie (which I cannot find right now), I was amazed by the warmth and healthy sanity that was expressed by Mamy Kanouté’s presence and the impression she left on people from her environment. Her music presented on this album shows all the elements of the sunny Senegal (in sound, a bit more in the direction of Mali especially), with it’s traditional sound of celebrating life songs, and with added songs of Mamy Kanouté and Baye Diop, which are presented as if bringing a dialogue of their visions. Mamy of both artists is the sunshine woman type, with a powerful and crafty well-spoken voice, while the other vocal response songs are with male voice and accompanied by kora and by acoustic guitar played in the vein of the kora. Some percussion adds its own accents in the high registers, while the balaphone provides the sound of African bass. A whole family of singers sing in the background with as much sunshine as the lead singer.
The album was recorded in Dakar hometown, but was produced and got some extra arrangements by Wouter Vandenabeele (Olla Vogala, Ambrozijn,..). Usually one would say that World music, made with an original core of inspiration, that was produced in a studio, over the years (in England and France especially) for me still have a name to a reputation or tendency for overproduction, showing more clearly the uninspired heads from the West looking for a new sound, who add bass effects and drums and who knows what else, to the annoying effect of even more contrasts of cultures. Wouter on the other hand has nothing but experience in working with World music musicians and has even toured in Africa. He had the ambitious thought of adding string arrangements to the album, in a way a studio used to add lush string arrangements to singer-songwriters contributions in the 60s, also because this was able to enrich the produced sound, in this case, thanks to Wouter’s roots in classical music, World music AND folk music, he also is able to do so in an effective way, trying not to resonate with domination, adding it a bit modestly. Especially when I hear the mix of the three styles in his arrangements, with a solo violin on top, I hear how much it truly is enriching the original sound, with all respect for the original African songwriters.
The result is a fine new World music example of production, in which not necessarily a new fusion or mix has been searched for, but which was made to make a respectful African release, with some extra colourful, dynamically produced enrichment. Nice, very nice!