Struck by the ancestral Mandingo hunters culture, Abou Diarra is an n’goni player (Malian harp guitar) with an atypical and strange career. Trained by his blind virtuoso master, he walked the roads between Abidjan, Bamako and Conakry for several months, only accompanied by his instrument. Crossing the remotest villages of West Africa and modern supercities, he is simultaneously influenced by hidden traditional sounds and contemporary urban music… His music deals with journey, exile, movement, life… He is fascinated by blues, jazz, reggae, groove… the rhythms and styles where country, sounds and influences meet… Abou adds strings to his n’goni and goes beyond the classic scale, using his n’goni as a guitar, a bass, a harp or a drum… in silent and nostalgic ballads or “bal poussière” wild rhythms.
Abou Diarra is one of those rare artists who doesn’t get involved in a new project unless pushed by an inner profound necessity. Koya, named after his mother as a tribute, joins quite naturally the continuance of a long musical thought process while venturing in new directions.
For the first time, Abou intertwines Nicolas Repac samples with his own electro grooves mixed together with Vincent Bucher harmonica blues. Nonetheless, he is never venturing far from a genuine malian musical spirit, being on the kamele n’goni or the singing, nicely sustained by Toumani Diabaté. Abou Diarra’s fervor shows behind each note of this album, full of humble richness, like himself : a deep sincerity, a full acceptation of life seen as a constant becoming, and towering over all, the serene feeling of a higher harmony.
« Mature and varied album from highly-talented Malian singer and ngoni player and his excellent group. None of the playing is ever flashy but at every turn you hear some happy incident. » fRoots (UK)
« One listens to Abou Diarra’s latest album the way they undertake a life journey. » Mondomix
« In his latest project, the Malian musician successfully associated his ngoni kamale, a harp-lute between tradition and modernism of which he is one of the most brilliant ambassadors, to western instruments. » RFI
« He plays n’goni, the Mandigo hunters’ harp-guitar to which he added extra strings, like on a guitar, a bass, a harp or drums, in order to mix wassoulou tradition with blues, jazz and afro-funk. » Télérama Sortir
« On his new album… he displays an undeniable melodic sense for the ngoni and for singing. » Vibrations
«There are eleven long tracks that entice and entrance the listener with such grace and tranquility that it is difficult to turn it off. » Inside World Music (UK)
«On Sabou, Diarra combines dazzling fast pieces with irresistible slow tempo material. Abou Diarra demonstrates his chops as a kamale ngoni player, with fabulous solos and fascinating interactions with guitars and other instruments.» World Music Central (USA)
Full English Press Review downloadable here
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