Tireless label/blog Awesome Tapes From Africa introduce another stunner to the wider world.
Brian Shimkovitz’s label have brought some phenomenal African releases to wider notice in recent years, notably Hailu Mergia’s hypnotic Hailu Mergia And His Classical Instrument and Penny Penny’s South African house landmark Shaka Bundu.
ATFA’s latest excavation is 1994’s Liital – the solitary cassette recording by Senegal’s Aby Ngana Diop. Well known in Dakar in the 1980s and 1990s, Diop was a griot, performing spirited music and spoken-word in the taasu style – a forceful, demonstrative performance mode, sometimes identified as a precursor to rap.
Liital sees Diop do her wild-eyed thing over a series of instrumentals in the wildly popular mbalax style, which fused Western funk and pop sounds with sabar, Senegal’s traditional drumming and dance music. Liital was the first record of its type to centre around a female performer, and proved a enormous hit in the country. It’s a doozy, full of tumbling drum patterns and call-to-arms vocal exhortations; anyone with a Foot Village or a Last Poets disc in their collection are strongly urged to give this some time.
Diop is unfortunately, no long with us, but ATFA have managed to track down Diop’s family to sanction the release. The album drops on September 2 on LP,CD, digital and cassette; listen to ‘Dieuleul-Dieuleul’ above.