Senior Superheroes

But shazam—the foxy mover and shaker of In Griot Timecomes to life faster than a speeding plectrum on the Super Rail Band's recent Mansa("king") and finally throws down the six-string challenge he always had in him on the acoustic Sigui(both Indigo), due this September. Scooting away from the brink, the Rail Band has toured America this summer (see sidebar), and Tounkara might return for a solo swing in the fall. It's preservation as rebirth. The spacious, unhurried, alert arrangements of both albums show the influence of recent releases by Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour, a suggestion that the synthesizer overload of recent years is done. Plugged in or not, Tounkara uses longer guitar phrases, frames his dramatic shifts brashly, and converses hard in a forthright guitar tongue that's gained rhetorical heat since his early days. Second only to the calmly audacious raga-drone introduction to "Dounia," the craggy melody and hypnotic coherence of the title track on Mansacrown the album—pretty catchy for a praise song. Tounkara gets the Afro-Hispanic fusion that Africando only promises on Sigui, and if the album never regains the eerie poise and beyond-white-light clarity of the first two numbers, "Mande Djeliou" and "Gnima Diala," those sound like the start of the most gorgeous acoustic album ever recorded. Now it's possible to believe Djelimady Tounkara will grace us with the rest of it someday.


Details

Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe
Sound Time
Indigedisc

Super Rail Band
Mansa
Indigo

Djelimady Tounkara
Sigui
Indigo

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Click here to read Robert Christgau's review of a Super Rail Band live performance.

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