I Speak Fula - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
Once trendsetters, always trendsetters; in 1986 Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman coalesced the Seattle sound around Sub Pop Records, an iconic label built on the talents of Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden. Grunge was born and rock’s never been the same. For 2010, Sub Pop again capitalizes on a musical phenomenon and spins off a new imprint called Next Ambiance founded by radio host, John Kertzer with Jon Poneman. Their roster is self-described as focusing on “mind-blowing and life-changing artists with no particular regional or cultural bias.” Read ‘no borders, no boundaries’; the stuff of contemporary global music (to avoid at all costs the disgraced descriptor ‘world music’). The first release on Next Ambiance is far removed from the Pacific Northwest actually originating in Northwest Africa. Malian master musician Bassekou Kouyate and his family of ngoni pickers are featured, along with an illustrious list of guests on I Speak Fula, a genuine slice of African acoustic rock ‘n roll. The ngoni is a prehistoric looking spike lute of varying numbers of strings, Kouyate’s band riffs out on four of these banjo-like axes, bending notes and soloing like B.B. King and furiously strumming like, well Kurt Cobain. The recording has the added attractions of kora great Toumani Diabate and Malian guitar heir, Vieux Farka Toure. I Speak Fula is a joyous, raucous celebration of the rock ethos from another time, another place and may, like grunge, very well demarcate the future realm of pop in true Sub Pop fashion.