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This recent release from Sahel Sounds is a comprehensive document of the urban dance party trend known as Balani Show, including some of the most prominent dance-floor hits of the genre. Though the label has been documenting music from Mali for quite a while, this new compilation represents a facet of Malian music that is not at all easily accessible to western listeners, and further exposes the sheer variety and depth of the region’s musical traditions. Having begun in the 90’s in Mali’s capital of Bamako as an alternative to hiring live musicians for dance parties, this is music that blends sounds and samples from traditional African music with modern recording and sampling techniques to create DJ and hi-tech sound system friendly urban dance music. As the form evolved from cassette to digital mediums, it became more accessible to remix/DJ culture and is now the sonic and cultural amalgamation heard on this release.

The common thread between the artists here is percussion samples, harmonic sparseness, and meticulously crafted yet unfaltering funky beats. Balafon, Djembe, and talking drum samples, drum machines, occasional auto-tune, synth, and energetically active vocals shamelessly unite to create  truly unique sonic and rhythmic worlds that bring to mind vivid imagery of the region and its culture. Highly recommended if you enjoy body motion and music listening as actions that aren’t mutually exclusive.

You can pick up Balani Show Super Hits HERE.

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