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World Music CD Reviews Africa


Published March 3, 2006

World Village

Mamar Kassey, a nine-piece band from Niger, hits with the breakneck ensemble intensity of Qawwali at its peak, but unlike the slowly gathering momentum of Qawwali they tend to start hot and stay hot. Mamar Kassey was formed by Yacouba Moumouni, who plays the Fulani reed flute and writes the songs, but they are very much a band. They evoke Omou Sangare’s group, though the clarion call of her lead vocal has no counterpart in these interlocking melodic lines that shift and vary in emphasis, with solos emerging gradually and gradually returning to the taut mix. “Hamsatou Lobbo” is one of several tracks that diverge in arrangement to the hot-in, hot-out approach. This homage to Moumouni’s first wife eases in with a solo vocal, which is joined by a lute figure that repeats like a worried mind, and then finishes with shock waves of harmony vocals. Like everything else on this record, it is dynamically conceived and executed without flaw.