Ballaké Sissoko: Djourou review – dreamy and adventurous | Music


It says much for Malian music that two of its greatest players, kora masters Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko, are among its most determined innovators. Not content with weighty family legacies (the two are cousins), they have won international recognition for their instrument, the 21-string west African harp, in part through cross-culture collaborations. Diabaté’s latest, with the London Symphony Orchestra, is imminent, while here Sissoko has sought out an assortment of guests. Among them is cellist Vincent Ségal, with whom he has already cut two sublime albums, and who joins clarinet player Patrick Messina for a sprightly take on Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Dreamy, hypnotic moods are default for kora, and Djourou provides several variations. The title track features Gambia’s Sona Jobarteh, who adds haunted vocal wails to their duet, while Parisian popster Camille whispers breathlessly in praise of Sissoko’s instrument on Kora. There’s a nostalgic cast to Kadidja, a slow meditation from Anglo-Italian singer and label mate Piers Faccini (who has a fine album of his own out in April), some grit from rapper Oxmo Puccino on Frotter Les Mains (Rub Hands) and nine meandering minutes with rock band Feu! Chatterton on Un Vêtement Pour La Lune (Moon Wear). Engaging and adventurous.


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