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Soleil de minuit

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Album Review

People who are drawn to world music that is relentlessly exuberant can't help but be captivated by some of the more dance-oriented styles of African pop — soukous, zouk and makossa immediately come to mind. But not all African pop is about non-stop energy; if you like your Afro-pop on the moody side, there is plenty of music from Ethiopia, the Sudan and Mali that is well worth exploring. Like Habib Koite and Ali Farka Toure, Mama Sissoko is a Mali native who provides a lot of moody, dusky material. Soleil de Minuit, the veteran singer's first U.S. release, is full of haunting tunes that have a strong Latin influence (mainly Afro-Cuban). African rhythms, of course, have had a strong influence on the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, and Brazil — so it sounds perfectly natural when a Malian vocalist like Sissoko blends African and Latin elements on Afro-pop items such as "Namissa" and "Jarabi Muso." If you played Soleil de Minuit alongside an album of son, merengue, cumbia, or bachata, you would hear the parallels between Sissoko's Malian pop and the tropical sounds of Latin America. The more exuberant styles of African pop also have that Latin influence — it's just a question of what you do with it. Sissoko doesn't use the African/Latin blend to keep you dancing all night, but to captivate those who need something haunting and smoky in their lives. Even though Soleil de Minuit is only the artist's first solo album in the U.S., the expressive singer has been a part of Mali's pop scene since the 1960s. This appealing CD makes listeners wish he would enter the studio a lot more often.


Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Mama Sisoko has been a leader in the Mali music scene since the late '70s. His musical education began when he started to play the battery of traditional percussion instruments at the age of eight and soon moved to guitar. He was a player in the National Orchestra of Mali for many seasons. As time went on he had a major part in a variety of musical groups that performed everything from traditional percussion music to hybrids of European and American pop. His growing...
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Soleil de minuit, Mama Sissoko
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