Ibaaku envisions the future of Senegalese music on this genre-breaking LP.
Ibaaku often refers to himself as a hybrid between alien and human. On this new album, the hybridism also applies to his use of both analogue and electronic tools, and to the mix of traditional culture and modern sounds. Ranging from sweet songs to beat tape sketches to abstract sound art, Ibaaku pulls off all these ideas convincingly. He scores highest with the more angular percussive tracks, like "Issa Dream" or "Dr Ndiaga," which is like a deconstructed version of Senegalese mbalax. The popular genre also appears on "Coumba Again," a clever fusion of library music and 808 beats.
The musical diversity of the LP reflects on Dakar, which is historically known as a cultural crossroads and home to many different cultures and beliefs. Senegal as a whole has given birth to several important West African acts, from showbiz mogul Youssou N'Dour to the griot singer Ndiaga Mbaye. Ibaaku chops Mbaye's voice into microscopic samples on "Dr Ndiaga" and "Mystère des Affaires Etranges," and then tries out singing himself on "La Beaute Du Hasard," which is like a lullaby made from the soft strum of an instrument that sounds a bit like the West African kora.
Senegal is also home to one of the most vibrant rap scenes on the continent, but when Ibaaku steps into the hip-hop universe, the music lacks the punchy, adventurous energy of the rest of Neo Dakar Vol. 1. A track like "Jazzy Classy," with its lo-fi samples and boom-bap kick drums, could've been taken from any lo-fi beat tape off SoundCloud. It sounds better when he's joined by fellow MCs, like on "Dem." The production stands out with its excitable drum rolls, muffled samples and a catchy chorus sung in Wolof, one of Senegal's official languages.
Neo Dakar Vol. 1 is Ibaaku's first album in five years. It shows an artist capable of stitching together different sounds, influences and acts while keeping a steady hand over it all. "Rites," especially, shows off Ibaaku's dexterity. Joined by Italian artist Cori (I-Science), he blends traditional sounds into a sonic collage á la William Basinski: dislocated bleeps, layered guitar chords and cascading piano over a hazy backdrop. More than anything else, the track sounds like Ibaaku's vision of the future in Dakar, a place where familiar sounds bleed together with strange noise and outside influences, merging into a truly borderless music.
Sat / 22 May 2021
02. Coumba Again
03. Dem feat. FEHE, Elzo Jamdon & Charlie Alves
04. Dr Ndiaga
05. Issa Dream
06. Jazzy Classy
07. Gmkdz (Interlude)
08. Ken Du Yow (Pop Version)
09. La Beauté Du Hasad
10. Mystere Des Affairs Etranges
11. Rites feat. Cori bu I-Science
12. Ken Du Yow (Acapella)