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Djine Bora

20/07/2022Bamako’s Singular BKO Quintet Releases Riveting Third Album Via Bongo Joe Records

Five years ago, we reviewed the feverish sophomore album "Mali Foli Coura" ('new music from Mali') by the singular Malian five-piece BKO, inviting listeners to explore the heart of modern-day Mali, while combining the traditional music of the griots with the ancient, mystical rituals of animist hunters. This combination of distinct musical traditions is indeed unparalleled though highly representative of the country's heritage. Last Friday, BKO unveiled their third full-length "Djine Bora" on Swiss imprint Bongo Joe Records and it is literally spellbinding. 

Responding to "the current political and ecological turmoil" in Mali, BKO turn to the magical spirit of the djinn behind a highly combustible blend of rock and mystical traditions, continuing "their unique experimentation with Mandingo music" and channeling the transcendental forces of an extraordinary past. Founded in Bamako in 2012, amidst the chaos of a coup d'etat, BKO proceeded to record three albums and create "a raucous live experience" with more than 450 concerts in 25 countries to their name. And "Djine Bora" will no doubt serve to further their legacy.

The album's ten tracks were recorded directly to analog tape with no overdubs, thus wonderfully capturing the quintet's unrivalled energy. Leading the group on vocals is Fassara Sacko who, despite losing his eyesight, has lost none of his charisma. He is backed by the versatile rhythm section made up of BKO founders Aymeric Krol and his teacher/mentor, the master percussionist Ibrahima Sarr. But perhaps most impressive is the electric pairing of griot Mamoutou Diabaté on the Djeli N'goni guitar and "member of the secret brotherhood of Bambara animist hunters," Adama Coulibaly, on the six-stringed Donso N'goni lute.

"Djine Bora" is a passionate display of contemporary West African music, combining modern urban experience with a multi-secular history. Riveting from start to finish, each piece takes on a life of its own, infectiously groovy, life-affirming and fuelled by am idefatigable spirit of resistance: "Lead single 'Toumaro' is a love song played with an urgency and anger to demonstrate that love is not only something that is sweet, but something that can also be full of rage, [while] the dancehall-inflected 'Bamako' is an open invite to all to come to Mali. A song to declare that despite the negative image and the corrupt politics, the joyous resilience of the Malian people will prevail."

You can stream the full album and watch the companion teaser video to album track "Ntiaro" below to catch a glimpse of BKO's magic.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom