Anansy Cissé’s souped-up guitar distortions re-work the West African Desert Blues genre with a new, agitated attitude. Featuring the soku fiddle playing of Zoumana Tereta and accompanied by ngoni, bass and calabash, Cissé’s sound harnesses musical traditions and spits it out anew, taking us into Mali Overdrive………
Anansy Cissé’s debut release, Mali Overdrive, offers a fresh take on West African blues, where the young guitarist, vocalist and composer mixes both electric and acoustic in an interesting way. With an ensemble comprised of ngoni, bass, calabash, soku, acoustic guitar and percussion, Cissé sings clearly, floating over his heavily distorted electric guitar. Influenced by traditional Fulani and Songhai music as well as classic and psychedelic rock bands, his playing is simple but effective. Although the guitar often takes center stage, there is no mindless noodling or intense soloing on this album.
When Cissé was living in Diré, he recorded local artists, providing a studio and backing tracks for young musicians. After militant Islamists invaded Northern Mali, he was forced to move south to Bamako. While there, he ran into calabash player and percussionist Philippe Sanmiguel. The two struck up an acquaintance which lead to Sanmiguel encouraging Cissé to make his own record with a cast of talented musicians. He assembled an impressive roster including Zoumana Tereta, whose soku playing is one of the highlights of Mali Overdrive. The lineup also features Djimé Sissoko and Oumar Koïta on ngoni, Abdramane Touré on bass, Oumar Konaté on acoustic guitar, and Mahalmadane Traoré and Sanmiguel on calabash……(www.worldmusic.net)….
Anansy Cissé makes his voice thick and muzzy, though sometimes it zips up into an almost-falsetto. The guitar in “Sekou Amadou” is slowly violent. The songs themselves are not violent—they’re examples of that kind of pan-African pop song that asks people to stay respectable and knock off the warfare. His building blocks are mainly Malian, primarily northern Malian, plus rock. None of them are new, but the execution is king here, the guitar jutting slowly right and left and commanding attention without begging for it. A taste for Led Zeppelin doesn’t tempt him into showstopper crescendos. It keeps him rubbing around for fuzz. Cissé ran a recording studio in the north until religious extremists and civil war pushed him south to Bamako. He’s not much of a self-promoter and friends had to persuade him to submit his music to World Music Network’s international Battle of the Bands. Thence to Mali Overdrive. Send us all friends like that……pop matters…………….
Crowdedsourced for Riverboat via an online “Battle Of The Bands” competition, Anansy Cissé plays Malian guitar music with rock-and-roll energy and attack. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.There is constant tension and release between Cissé’s guitar and Zoumana Tereta’s souk, a screeching fiddle. “Wasmassiheme” tangles up guitar and high-speed ngoni riffs. Cissé’s flight from his northern home town prompts “Gonmi”, a plea for national peace….Financial Times…review…………. Sometimes listening to West African music is like looking at the surface of a beautiful pond. In the ripples we see reflections of American blues created by the musical circle that historically and culturally connects both our continents. This musical circle is drawn very masterfully by Malian musician Anansy Cissé.
The foundation of his music is built on tracks of bass guitar, ngoni (a west African stringed instrument in the guitar family), soku (single stringed traditional fiddle) and calabash (percussion instrument made from a gourd and beads). Cissé’s golden-toned voice is punctuated with intermittent riffs of his own very bluesy electric guitar. The calabash provides a syncopated rhythm that weaves a texture with the stringed instruments, and his vocal lines tie it all together melodically. Overall the feel of his music is acoustic, organic, earthy and very accessible to the Western ear while still remaining true to his traditional musical path.
When militant Islamists invaded northern Mali, Cissé was forced to move further south to continue his music. He deals with this ongoing tragedy by writing songs like “Gomni” which is a call for peace. In the song “Sekou Amadou” he uses a recording of a speech by Nelson Mandela with a message of harmony and equal opportunity. Even though the lyrics are sung in his native tongue, the spirit of heartfelt compassion comes through. This is the type of music we hear with the ears of our heart, and we have a most enjoyable experience while we’re listening….by….Thomas Ardizzone……….