Mosulu - Quicksound & Alpha Yaya Diallo
To Vancouverites, Alpha Yaya Diallo is something of a local hero. When the west coast city was still a cultural backwater that had no inkling of world music, Vancouver did know African grooves thanks to Alpha's legendary performances at the Commodore Ballroom. And, while African is a pretty sweeping label, Vancouver was exposed to one of the very best, a celebrated axe man and soaring vocalist from Guinea; Alpha has since racked up 3 Juno Awards and numerous other trophies and accolades. Another thing about Alpha, he's an extremely intelligent and savvy artist. Throughout his career thus far, he has intuitively recognized the value in collaboration (a contributor to the two Guitar Summit recordings and last year, touring with kora master, Prince Diabate). He's also welcomed the challenge of reinvention, moving gracefully between acoustic and electric albums and contemporary themes like the 2010 album Immé, with it's environmental overtones. And now comes his most radical reinvention to date, Mosulu, a partnering of Alpha Yaya Diallo and Montreal production company, Quicksound who have worked their makeover magic with many prominent artists and projects from Lionel Richie to Cirque du Soliel to Bran Van 3000. Also featuring the beautiful voice of French/Guinean chanteuse, Tiranke Sidime, Mosulu's 11 tracks find Alpha sounding completely refreshed and re-energized. Quicksound have tastefully introduced his music to the world of programmed beats and pumping bass that update and compliment his intricate guitar patterns and passionate, sustained wails; most effectively on the title/opener, Gakhu and the cinematic, over the top production number, Master Of The Universe. Classic Alpha compositions would include long, groovy jams that delighted dancers in live performances but were a little unwieldy for radio programmers. Astutely, the Quicksound team keeps the Mosulu package moving with all the songs clocking in at just over 3 minutes. The fades may come too early for some listeners but the old adage, "Keep them wanting more" has never been applied more effectively. Mosulu is a triumph from beginning to end and reinforces Alpha Yaya Diallo's relevence and vitality. He is an artist for the ages and Vancouver should be terribly proud.