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Friday
Jun292007

YAALA YAALA RECORDS - Various Releases

pekos%20yoro%20diallo-st.jpg          va-bougouni%20yaalali.jpg          daouda%20dembele-st.jpg

Founded by Jack Carneal, an American who moved to the Mali town of Bougouni in 1999, the new Yaala Yaala label is dedicated to unearthing a very different side to the music of this African nation than the Western world is used to seeing. It makes sense that this label's albums are being released in partnership with U.S. indie stalwart Drag City, because its three introductory releases are to the World Circuit/Nonesuch catalogue (home to Mali's best known international artists) what Drag City, et al are to pop music's major labels. These three albums have no track listings, minimal artwork, and have been recorded on boomboxes simply for the sake of archiving a moment. There are two self-titled albums by Pekos/Yoro Diallo and Daouda Dembele, and a compilation entitled Bougouni Yaalali. Each of these albums is raw and pure, devoid of the sterile touches of a Western producer or studio. Microphones squeal with feedback and distort as the vocalists get excited and the results are field recordings of great impact and excitement. In this light, a debate has been made as to the validity of the work of people like World Circuit producer Nick Gold or Ry Cooder and whether their presence was something of a disservice to the integrity of Malian music, polishing it for Western consumption. That seems a touch elitist and reactionary, as though you can't enjoy both (which of course you can!). One thing is for sure, if the work of Rokia Troare, Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita and their peers has ever felt a little too safe for your liking, these recordings will blow your mind. Even if you are a fan of those artists, these albums provide a superb counterpoint. After a history of Steely Dans, the West may finally be getting its peek at some of Mali's Velvet Undergrounds. Excellent news!

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