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Here is a compilation of sought-after Voltaic music from 1968-78, hailing from what was then the Upper Volta and is now Burkina Faso. A remote country in West Africa which at the time lacked even a proper recording studio or record pressing plant, musicians of the peculiarly isolated Upper Volta drew influence from neighbouring countries like Mali, The Ivory Coast and Ghana which they encountered on necessary cross-border trips to record their unique music.
These well travelled musicians infuse distinctive West African rhythms and simple, warm melodies with dramatically ambitious ideas evident in some smart arrangements. You can hear punchy brass and orchestral touches alongside more the more lo-fi aspects, showing a clear familiarity with funk and jazz as well as the more traditional local sounds, timeless shuffling polyrhythms and Afrobeat-inspired guitar. I’m particularly enjoying Ama Maiga & Melodie Volta’s ‘Deny Tologuelen’ with its bold multitracked vocals and hi-gain afrojazz guitar which snakes cheekily around its simple rhythmic grooves, descending into chaos towards the end with some goofy high-pitched wailing. I have to admit I was entirely unfamiliar with the music of Burkina Faso before today so I won't go on for too long for fear of exposing my ignorance on the subject but this compilation is a delight for someone like me who is naive but enthusiastic about exotic sounds from around the globe.
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