Today’s find comes to us from Massa Dembele, a singer/songwriter from Burkina Faso, off his new album Alumaye (which translates to “Have you heard?”) Dembele’s weapon of choice is the kamele n’goni (“young man’s harp”), a stringed instrument that sounds a little bit like a cross between a banjo and a sitar. On “Djembe,” the n’goni races around in tight, complex circles of melody, battling it out with the percussion instrument that gives the song its title. The djembe in the hands of a skilled player can produce intricate, polyrhythmic, and even tuneful fills within and around the beat of a song, and that proves to be the case here. Steady handclaps further add to the multilayered rhythm section. I nearly lost it trying to keep time in my head; eventually, I just gave up and enjoyed the liveliness of the music and Dembele’s expressive vocals. To answer the question posed by the album title: yes, I have heard, and it’s awesome.
Listen to more from Massa Dembele: https://massadembele.bandcamp.com/