Aby Ngana Diop - Liital (4 stars)

Aby Ngana Diop - Liital

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

(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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