Les Amazones d’Afrique
(Real World Records)
République Amazone is a mesmerising blend of female advocacy and dance rhythms. Les Amazones d’Afrique – an African super-group featuring Grammy-winner Angélique Kidjo and Mariam Doumbia, from Amadou & Mariam – are supported here by Irish producer Liam Farrell, whose electronics envelop more traditional sounds such as kora, thumb piano, Mouneissa Tandina’s drums and Mamadou Diakité’s piercing electric guitar.
Farrell, known as Doctor L, deftly prevents the album from becoming a mere curiosity, and the women’s participation should alleviate doubts about stylistic authenticity.
Kidjo, from Benin, takes the spotlight on Dombolo, its cascading percussion a magnet for the dance floor. Mali’s Rokia Kone, a relative newcomer, nearly steals the spotlight on several tracks.
Her vocal intensity is perfectly matched by Diakité’s guitar on Mansa Soyari, while she builds a splendid duet with Malian grand dame Kandia Kouyaté on Anisokoma. The stirring I Play the Kora has lyrics that are a rallying cry against sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
* Pablo Gorondi / AP