Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Afro Noize Part 4: Issa Bagayogo- Poye (Tal M. Klein Remix- Radio Edit)




Free Download - Issa Bagayogo - Poye (Tal M. Klein remix Radio Edit)









Commissioning remixes is one of the favorite parts of my job. Bringing together two creative voices into that musical partnership known as the remix is a tremendous leap of faith on many levels. I approach the process of brokering these "arranged marriages" in much the same way that I imagine a casting director does. The essential question on my mind is always "what unique and special element will this person bring to this work?"

There are lots of different approaches a remixer can take with a track, ranging from simply adding some beefed up grooves to completely re-imagining the original- to all points in between. Some of my favorite mixes have kept very little of the original song, while some others remain very faithful to the original. Like so many art forms, there is no single, "correct" blueprint for creating the perfect mix.

In hiring remixers, I also try very hard to bring newer and less established names into the process. It's great getting a well known producer like a Joe Claussell or an Ananda Project to work on a project (as we recently did with our group Pacifika) and quite frankly those artists bring along the interest of their own fans, which is always nice, particularly for a newer band. However, it's also exciting to hear what someone who is young (career wise), hungry and has something to prove, brings to the remix party. It's also always nice to catch someone "on the way up" in their career.

Tal M. Klein
is not exactly a newcomer on the scene but he's probably new to many of your ears. We met at the San Francisco airport, waiting for our flight to last year's Winter Music Conference in Miami. I liked him immediately and was happy to find that I also very much liked his CD that he gave me, Plastic Starfish. Tal does groovy, breaks based music just the way I like it, with lots of funk, creative production and plenty of melody. When I started soliciting remixers for the new Issa Bagayogo release, I knew Tal would bring something fun, fresh and funky to the song, as he consistently does with all of his own work.

Today we give you a "sneak peak" taster of Tal's mix in the form of this radio edit. The full remix stretches out for over 10 minutes and will be available later this year. Issa Bagayogo may seem like an unlikely candidate for international dancefloor success. His home country of Mali is one of the ten poorest nations in the world, and one in which economic and professional opportunities tend to be shaped by one's caste and ethnic origins – and Issa's heritage pointed him less in the direction of music than in those of blacksmithing and fishing. But at a young age he demonstrated a talent for playing the ngoni, a three-stringed lute that is popular throughout western Africa (under a variety of names) and may be the direct ancestor of the banjo. In Mali the ngoni is normally reserved for sacred contexts related to hunting, so youngsters who wanted to avoid controversy invented a six-string version for everyday use. This remains Issa's primary instrument – another unlikely element in the story of his rapid ascent to worldwide fame.

In the mid-1990s, musical success looked even more remote. After making several recordings and failing to have a regional hit with any of them, Issa was making his living driving a bus while also descending into drug addiction. Eventually he lost his job and his wife, and moved back to the country to stay with his mother. But in the latter half of the decade he made the decision that would change his life and alter the face of the world music scene: he quit taking drugs, moved to Bamako (Mali's capital city) and hit the studio again, this time working with a locally famous production team to create a highly personal sound that combined the acoustic traditions of his region with elements of rock, funk, dub and electronica.

Ten years and four albums later, Issa Bagayogo is a regular star attraction on stages around the continent, playing for huge and wildly enthusiastic audiences. His reception outside of Africa has been warm as well. Reviewing one of his pneumatic live shows, England's Folk Roots magazine marveled at his energy, saying that he "may radically reshape West Africa's groove… when Issa plays, only the dead stay still." His second album, Timbuktu, hit the top of the CMJ New World chart, and Utne Reader called it "fine as Sahara sand," while Billboard said it was time to "add this man's name to the growing list of Mali's emerging world-music luminaries.

2 comments:

tz41 said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Bob, this project was a lot of fun to work on. I especially liked your statement about remixes:

"There are lots of different approaches a remixer can take with a track, ranging from simply adding some beefed up grooves to completely re-imagining the original- to all points in between. Some of my favorite mixes have kept very little of the original song, while some others remain very faithful to the original. Like so many art forms, there is no single, "correct" blueprint for creating the perfect mix."

I completely agree with you. There are extremes on both sides of the equation. In this case I chose a few elements of the original, the guitar and vocals, and used those as "anchors" while building a new track around them. But I've been in scenarios when I was asked not to stray too far away from the original. In those cases the process is very different because it's more cerebral and less artistic. I personally prefer the former to the latter, but in both cases it's always a lot of fun just to get the stems of a song because it allows me to truly dig through another artist's creative process. I usually spend a day just trying to figure out how the final product was born of all the individual components, it's therapeutic in a way and often opens my eyes to new techniques and ideas that I add to my repertoire.

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