Saturday, July 18, 2009

LES FRERES GUISSE - Yakaar (Mon Slip)

Senegalese trio Les Frères Guissé have released a couple of promising but patchy albums in recent times, attempting to mix up their appealing but potentially repetitive brand of acoustic guitar and harmonious singing with experiments with Dutch folk singers, rock guitar and jazz . On Yakaar, the group has dispensed with the tricks, added a bit of variety of pace, stripped back and cleaned out the sound and consequently delivered their most accomplished work yet. Two of the three brothers - Djiby and Cheikh - alternate lead vocals, and there’s a good contrast between the heady, slightly nasal plaintive tone of one and the higher, lighter timbre of the other (unfortunately the sleeve notes give no clue as to which singer is which). Bubbling away underneath are the two singers’ sprightly interweaving acoustic guitar patterns and the pit-a-pat of percussion from third brother Aliou, who also contributes a third voice to the choruses. Other instrumental bits and pieces add sparing and supple flavours to these winsome, catchy tunes – kora, ngoni, fula flute and harmonica all pop up here and there - and there’s also what seems to be a trademark Les Frères touch, an a cappella track in the Ladysmith Black Mambazo mould that underlines what a great set of pipes these siblings possess. The subject matter reflects the nature of the music; love, friendship, religious tolerance, unity, peace. Gentle and persuasive concerns communicated in a gently persuasive, uncluttered manner.

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