MusicWilliam Dorey

Review: Senegal 70

MusicWilliam Dorey
Review: Senegal 70

Analog Africa is a label that has come to the forefront of the reissue scene in the last couple of years. The quality and presentation of their releases (especially the vinyl editions) can only be matched by Soundway; but even they, I feel, come shy this time! Senegal 70 has been four years in the making… The Afro-Latin sounds of 1970s Senegal are astounding to say the least, something akin to the darker side of 50s/60s Cuban music – Compay Segundo, Pio Levya, and Ibrahim Ferrer and other pre-Buena Vista names spring to mind. Combined with stellar artwork and presentation (which comes as no surprise), this Analog Africa release is an instant favourite for me.

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Whilst this selection of Senegalese music does not have as much finesse as Cuban music – this is actually one of the things I love about it. It is raw to the bone, uncured and insatiable. Gritty rhythms that make you want to move your hips, even if you dance like a muffin. A great example isThiely by the well-renowned (and still active) group Orchestre Bawobab – one of Senegal’s great musical creations. This song is electric – I can’t help but turn my sound system to arcane volumes as soon as I hear it, and I observe as my body starts to tap and bounce in every possible direction to the music. Beautifully crafted rhythms, I would say worthy of the best Latin nightclubs. Throw in the fact that Thiely, along with several other standout tracks on this release has never been released until now! That’s a pretty special achievement.

Other personal standout tracks include Kiko Medina by Le Tropical Jazz – I would believe this was a Cuban record were it not for the more psychedelic edge, and generally more lo-fi and rough-edged sound that marks it as distinctly African. The guitar is the biggest giveaway – it has the same flavor as what was coming out of other Central-African countries at the time. The great Franco from the Congo, and Angola’s Paulo 9 and Os Kiezos immediately spring to mind.

Also the sweet and floaty Sanga Té by Orchestre Laye Thiam instantly caught my ear – my mind was instantly transported to some distant palm-tree lined beach on the coast of Senegal somewhere. It sounds like a warm breeze, a piña colada (or its African equivalent), and the perfect state of sun-drenched horizontal lethargy.

Let’s not forget the rest of the tracks though… As they all deserve a paragraph about their quirks and their individual merit. Amara Touré’s beautiful vocal delivery on El Carretero – sung in Spanish, the militant drumming on Orchestre Laye Thiam’s Massani Cissé, and the upbeat funkiness of Le Sourouba de Louga’s Bour Sine, to name but a few other highlights.

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The double-vinyl edition comes with a 12-page LP size booklet and gatefold sleeve – an all-round work of art, whilst the CD-version comes with a 44-page booklet. Available direct from the Analog Africa Bandcamp.