Paris may have been the first port of call for inter-continental Mande music in its new modern-traditional form — accelerated versions of old syncopations, not grafting from pop so much as borrowing its mode of impatience and catchy riff — but more and more good bands are coming out of North America, and New York in particular. Or is the advertising better there and therefore we hear of them more? It’s hard to tell. Groundswells in other places unacknowledged?
Either way, Benyoro is indisputably excellent, a razor-sharp group of six instrumentalists founded by Sam Dickey, a Californian who plays djeli n’goni and guitar. On the album, they’re accompanied by two guest singers, women, jelimusow, who stay surprisingly demure, considering the power in their voices. Benyoro starts with a deep-pitched dance composed by Dickey, and floats away at the end with a pensive interpretation of “Sackodugu”. Enough bounce in the middle that my mind drifted over to soukous. How do you know when a genre is healthy? When the unsung background groundswell is as fine as this.