Ballaké Sissoko – At Peace (2013)
While I was listening to this album, I was trying to place the main instrument; at times sounding like a harp and again like a guitar, or maybe some kind of lute. Having never come across Sissoko before, I was interested to read that he plays an instrument called the kora, which is a Western African harp-like instrument.
Sissako himself is from Mali, and is a master of this instrument. This album is at a fairly relaxed pace; harmonic support is given from what sounds like cello and marimba, though mostly subtle, with a fair bit of pedal point, drone and not much chordal variation, leaving Sissako the freedom to explore the musical space. His playing is beautiful and melodic; and at times virtuosic blistering fast, sounding more like Flamenco than anything.
In all, this is a very evocatively peaceful album; so powerful is the imagery here that I challenge you to listen to Boubalaka and not envisage a mountain stream, caressing the rock, tumbling off precipices, crashing down and flowing through the hills. Or Asa Branca which has an almost soundtrack feel, evoking a journey onward to the next adventure.
Favourite tracks: Boubalaka, Kalata Diata, Asa Branca
Spotify link: Ballaké Sissoko – At Peace