Words by Martin Sinnock
Mamar Kassey is the working group name used by the musician Yacouba Moumouni (nicknamed Denke-Denke). The group is from Niger and this is their third album release. Their 1999 debut, Denke-Denke, was a striking album that mixed the traditional sounds of the Sahel with a modern electric instrumentation. It was followed by Alatoumi in 2001, which was pretty much faultless. Taboussize-Niger continues in a predominantly acoustic and traditional vein, revealing an increased level of maturity and confidence in performance.
Moumouni has a deep, rich, thick voice and plays flute in an earthy and breathy fashion. He also plays kamalengoni lute, backed by an ensemble that includes a raspy single-stringed fiddle and pulsing talking drum. However, this isn’t entirely acoustic traditional fare – there’s an electric bass and flashes of electric guitar that round out the production. Two female voices impeccably fill out Yacouba Moumouni’s terrific vocals on a West African album that is an absolute joy.
TRACK TO TRY: ‘La Famille’