365 Days of Album Recommendations – July 25

Issa Bagayogo – Mali Koura

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I was so excited when I discovered Issa Bagayogo recently, and so deeply saddened shortly thereafter when I learned he’d passed away not long ago. Upon first hearing him, I was convinced this was someone I would fall in love with, and be listening to for decades. Those are both true, but it hurts to remember that his musical output is now but a finite thing.

A Malian musician, and a specialist on the kamele n’goni, he released four albums all told. This one was the last, and it’s simply extraordinary.

Fans of Ali Farka Touré may feel a certain and immediate affinity for this music, but Bagayogo’s hypnotizing blend of traditional Malian sounds and savvy modern production and grooves are all his own.

And his voice, oh, his voice … his is a lived-in voice, a shamanistic voice, a roughly pure and purely rough melodic weapon that can dart and flit from staccato chants and raps to lilting, haunting reverie in the blink of an eye.

Begin with the song Poye. That will be all you need to convert, I assure you.


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