Sory Kandia Kouyate

Many readers know that I am a huge Sory Kandia Kouyate fan, and have
been ever since I first listened to “Souaressi” on the Syliphone 40th
Anniversary compilation. I’m pretty excited, therefore, to have
discovered another collection of his available on emusic a month or so
ago: L’épopée du mandingue, or the Mandeng Era. You can grab a
copy yourself with your own emusic subscription here.
What’s even more exciting about this one is that I recognize several
of the song titles: I have other versions of “Massana Cisse,” “Keme
Bourema,” “Toutou Diarra,” and “Duga” in the sonoteca already,
so I can look forward to some exciting comparative listening.
The whole griot-song oeuvre really is such a source of joy and
creative energy to me, and has been for many, many years.
My thoughts on balafonist El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyate
Picture is one of my many thiebou-dienn photos, from Dedeao’s party on Hart St in February 2008.

Tune-Yards, “Sunlight”

This song has pretty much everything tossed in, as if it was some kind
of whirling food processor of a pop-song. There’s a rock-solid drum
beat, the girl’s vocal, the bass drops in at just the right time to
make the grove swing. Then the chorus pops out, like the girl from the
cake in “Some Like It Hot,”
“I could be the sunlight in your eyes/couldn’t I?”
The singer (Merrill Garbus, a proud Vermont product, evidently) must
have listened to lots of Brigitte Fontaine while making this record.
MG has exactly the same balance between threat and vulnerability as
BF, but sings more lightly .
Is that a car alarm sound in the background of the second chorus, and
a symphonic string section coming in around the bridge, or what? Plus
the disco-like breaks here and there, where the whole song is reduced
to a single note, a single instrument, a single pulse or beat. But you
don’t need to wait for those moments to come up, at any moment, like
some kind of hologram, each individual instrument or drum contains its
own solitary, perfected nature; I could spend hours just listening to
the decay of the hi-hat.
Obtain your own copy here.

Fumbling the dozens

Bo Diddley, “I Don’t Like You”

“If you had dynamite for brains, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose.”

“You look like a million dollars to me”

“Yeah, what?”

“I ain’t never seen a million dollars. You look like something I ain’t
never seen before.”

Only Bo Diddley can come up with some kind of wack-ass dozens-calling
and make it sound intriguing and even funny. Having to explain it
usually eviscerates all humor, but this tune remains a staple on my
list of funny novelty songs. The annoying incessant opera-singer riff
probably has something to do with that as well. Could this song be a
predecessor of hiphop?