Donso ‘Denfila’ (Comet) 4/5

When Congotronics married indigenous Congolese dance rhythms with electronic beats, a whole new area of musical exploration was opened up and in the case of Donso the musical philosophy has simply been displaced to West Africa for a collaboration between the capitals of France and Mali. The brains behind the project is none other than electro DJ/musician Pierre Antione Grison aka Krazy Baldhead and overall this is a well thought and executed set of sounds that will appeal to dance music enthusiasts in search of something a little more exotic as well as to world roots fans who will still find much to appreciate from the Malian input. The album is typified by the endless repetition of vocal chants over an electronic loop on a number such as ‘Rue Princesse’ and this creates a trance like atmosphere that builds in intensity over five and a half minutes and even recalls Amadou and Mariam. A genuine highlight is the hypnotic chugging beat of ‘Mantiaba’ which is the nearest thing you will find to an authentic Malian roots groove and features some lovely vocals from the same named Mantiaba. In between the main pieces are short thirty second interludes and some of these are fascinating in themselves, with ‘Durumi 2’ being especially memorable. For variation, the blues-rock guitar on ‘Rock le Kalaban’ is an engaging uptempo vehicle with a raw feel to it that features joint lead vocals. If the electronica element is not all pervasive here, it does nonetheless combine well and the driving bass-line of ‘Jugu’ with vocals supplied by Gedeon Diarra illustrates perfectly why. The mighty impressive folkloric mask on the album cover conjures up the general mood wonderfully well. Tim Stenhouse