There are times when you need a helping hand to reach a new milestone. To put together his fourth album, Nimissa, Guinean singer and musician Ba Cissoko was assisted by reputed producer Philippe Eidel, who has managed to draw out each song’s potential and assure some ship-shape production.
Rather like immediately identifying a wine, Ba Cissoko’s music is recognisable from the first sip. He has the unusual quality of expressing all of his influences and styles on the strings of a kora, or actually koras. His artistic approach is based on associating his acoustic instrument with the electric version played by his cousin and long-time accomplice, Sékou Kouyate.
Over time and in the space of his albums, the son of a great tradition has shown that he not only has talent, but that he can present his culture in a different way, by finding a slot for it in the global village. On Nimissa, the song that gives the CD its name, he flirts with afrobeat groove. He continues with Politiki, whose message, addressed to the political leaders of his country, blends almost naturally into a reggae backdrop. Next comes Loumo, a finely tuned ballad arranged with flair. Naboran adds a Latino flavour.
To move between these worlds, the deep-voiced Guinean, twice winner of the RFI Découvertes award, has taken on the perfect travel guide. Philippe Eidel started off producing new wave and rock and then made a name for himself with Khaled and more recently Akli D. Drawing from his experience, he has shaped and polished the eleven tracks and optimised their sound, at times choosing to highlight passages with keyboards or the accordion. Ba, currently playing in a quintet, has selected brass to accompany his project, rekindling memories of Tamalalou, the group that gave Ba Cissoko a kick start back in the 1990s.
Ba Cissoko Nimissa (Christal Records/Harmonia Mundi) 2012