The Mali Mixes

Frikyiwa Collection 1 puts a new twist on the old European-producer-remixes-African-artists gambit. Frikyiwa label head Frédéric Galliano has raided the vault of the French Cobalt label, which specializes in music from Mali, and matched older tracks with sympathetic electronica and dance producers. The songs, originally released on 12-inch singles on the Frikyiwa label, respect the sources with decidedly dancefloor-friendly results. Chari Chari's "Setagaya-Segou Soul River Drive Mix" of Lobi Traore's "Koroduga" (RealAudio excerpt), for example, matches big beats to Traore's writhing guitar lines.

Perhaps the most interesting of these remixes, though, are those by the Natty Bass Sound System, which deconstructs Djigui's "Ladilikan" into a pair of equally revelatory dub versions, one instrumental (RealAudio excerpt), the other vocal. But the remixers don't always drag Africa to Europe, even by way of Jamaica; the roots show through, rich and wild, as when Nahawa Doumbia's "Fatien" (RealAudio excerpt) is given a full house treatment.

Exciting and fun, these remixes may even expose these great artists to a wider audience. And the real proof of the record's success is that ultimately it's not the electronic dance components that intrigue, but the original tracks themselves. Back to the source!