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The infectious and joyous debut release from Ba Cissoko, four young Guinean exiles living in Marseille, connects the intensity of Salif Keita with the fun of Guinean dance bands. The keynote of their sound is the distinctive and elegant kora (21-string African harp). Instead of burying the kora’s intricate beauty too deep in the mix or placing it too high on a classical pedestal, Ba Cissoko position the two koras right out front.

The dynamic is upped another notch by electric settings — perhaps the first ever for the age-old instrument. The wild, souped-up electric kora alongside the lush otherworldliness of a second, acoustic kora is definitely striking, and the playing of both is as virtuoso as that delivered by kora masters such as Toumani Diabate. Spanning festival rhythms and contemplative traditional moods, their promo caught the ear of a producer at a Parisian club who tracked them down to cut a full-length CD. Though “Sabolan” is their first, this tight quartet produces music that sounds as mature and practiced as any African recording of the past several years.

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