Mamman Sani - La Musique Electronique du Niger LP


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Label: Sahel Sounds

Our Review:

The Sahel Sounds label (responsible for Music From Saharan Cel Phones, Harafin So, and many more great lps of music from the Sahel region of Africa) strikes again with this amazing reissue of an uber-rare vintage cassette, the lone album circa 1978 by Nigerian "electronic music pioneer" Mammane Sani Abdullaye. We're told that if you live in West Africa, you'd likely be familiar with Mammane's instrumental music to some extent, as his tunes have apparently been used frequently in the background on radio and TV broadcasts over the past three decades. For us though, his sounds are an exciting discovery! Mammane plays the electric organ, in a fairly minimalistic and repetitive style, his music full of charming, simple melodies; it sounds very live and intimate, recorded with hardly any overdubs (it was done on a 2 track machine) and pleasingly lo-fi, with a little bit of tape hiss (just like we like it).

Some of the songs are woozy, sweetly dreamy sound paintings, others are more uptempo and percussive, with tick-tocking rhythm backing tracks, and Mammane joyously tickling the keys over top. Chiptune/skweee fans might enjoy the more video-game-y blip blip bleep of the calm yet jaunty "Bodo," while the laidback grooviness of the likes of "Tunan" should appeal to fans of the Ethiopiques series, even though this is from a completely different region of Africa. Many of the melodies are based on traditional Nigerian folk music - as the label's notes say, "Mammane electrifies the nomadic drum of the tende, the polyphonic ballads of the Woddaabe, and the pastoral hymns of the Sahelian herders." Others are entirely original. And all are quite lovely indeed. Such a find.

Highly recommended in particular to fans of Francis Bebey and his African Electronic Music 1975-1982 collection. An absolutely delightful record!