Songhai was a world music fusion group active in the 1980s and 1990s consisting of Malian kora-player Toumani Diabate, British bassist Danny Thompson and members of the Spanish flamenco musical group, Ketama. They recorded an album (Songhai) in 1988 and then released a second Songhai 2) in 1994. The first is generally out of print and unavailable (unless you still have a record player and purchase the LP on eBay). But the second album, Songhai 2 is thankfully still widely available.
It is an extraordinary recording full of lush and romantic music that combines the the shimmering glissandos of the kora line with the gorgeous guitar harmonies of Ketama. As Cliff Furnald writes so cogently at Rootsworld.org:
The interplay between the Saharan sound of the Diabate ensemble with the Carmonas’ flamenco fusion is ripe, sweet and pungent. The acoustic guitars, acoustic bass, balafons and African strings are effervescent. The compositions reflect their [the ensemble’s] increased understanding of the other’s musical heritage…In tracks like Pozo Del Deseo and De La Noche A La Mañana it all comes together with grace and beauty.
I would rank this as one of the top 25 world music recordings of the 1990s.
Hear Pozo del Deseo here. What I love about this song is the dream-like sound of the female vocals, the gorgeous flamenco guitar line. In the lead vocal you hear hunger, passion and anguish. I only wish I could find an English translation of the lyrics, but alas I cannot.
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I have the cd. Owned it for over ten years now. Each time i play it-especially ‘pozo.. i just just want to cry a sweet pain- i feel as if as if it is encoded to speak to my DNA- it takes me to the desert or somewhere where i have not been yet. Can someone understand what i’m talking about. It is a devastatingly beautiful piece of music that i could never tire of.Why does it speak to me so?
Richard Silverstein says
Me too. I’ve owned it at least that long I think. There are some musical compositions that are so lovely, so langurous, so serene they transcend musical categories. They’re perfect and represent life at its finest. This record is definitely one of them.