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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Kokanko Sata

By Derek Beres

Kokanko Sata
Honest Jon’s HJRCD12

MALI

Kokanko Sata’s life seems as improvised as her music. A self-made, self-reliant female artist within a decidedly male Malian scene, she builds her own n’gonis, an instrument she taught herself to play. Sata was “found” performing with Damon Albarn’s Mali Music project. After releasing the experimental Mali Music album, Honest Jon’s keeps it simple with this rustic recording by Sata. The dozen tracks celebrate a grainy image of acoustic Africa, constructed with minimal dashes of calabash, flute, balafon, djembekeregnaim. The focal point remains Sata’s vocals and n’goni, two instruments on which she proves herself skilled, though not overly exciting. The balafon adds a nice dynamic on “Be Mogo Ya,” as do flutes and percussion on “Tie Farin Shiw.” Sata’s solo tracks, abundant throughout, sound great, but when taken together become slightly tedious, threatening to make the disc background listening. A little more production gloss might have helped matters.