Super Onze - Gao
- Stewart Smith
- 16 January 2014
Malian group deliver ecstatic desert music at its best
Saharan desert blues begins here. Formed in the early 80s, Super Onze are the masters of Takamba, a style originating in the Songhai region of Mali that combines the ngoni (West African lute) with heavy calabash percussion and passionate vocals. This is a celebratory music, performed at weddings, birth ceremonies and religious festivals.
Recorded in the early 90s, Gao is the first vinyl release of Super Onze's music, and features a different lineup of the band to that on the 2011 CD on Two Speakers. The sound is rawer here, with the tranced-out buzz of the electrified ngoni up front and the vocals in a supporting role. Over the relentless click-boom beat of the calabash, ngoni masters Yahia Mballa Samaké and Douma Maïga spool out a spider's web of shredding syncopated runs and mesmeric pedal-points, while the singers praise the holy man Yehia. Ecstatic desert music at its best.