Aby Ngana Diop - Liital (4 stars)

Game-changing album from female Senegalese travelling musician first released in 1994

Aby Ngana Diop - Liital

(Awesome Tapes From Africa)

First released in 1994, Liital was the late Senegalese griot (travelling musician) Aby Ngana Diop's only album, but it was a game-changer, being the first commercially released album to feature a female taasukat (a Wolof language praise poet) performing to a modern Mbalax sound. And what a sound it is, with arresting vocal chants over a frenetic mix of relentless live percussion, pounding drum machines and minimal synth. Opening track 'Dieuleul-Dieuleul' is a serious banger, as a cheerful synth intro gives way to a block-rocking breakbeat and screaming whistle sample that recalls Public Enemy's 'Rebel Without a Pause'. Thunderous djembe polyrhythms push and pull at the groove to sublimely disorientating effect. Enter Diop and her co-vocalists, chanting and rapping in a thrillingly raw call-and-response routine. Field recordings of a train and a horse and carriage intersperse the tracks, underlining Liital's electrifying synthesis of the modern and traditional.

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