Following on from an excellent debut in 2019, with ‘Karoussel’, Mow Records unveils its second album. A further exploration of label head Mowgan’s penchant for house music and authentic African sounds, ‘Soya’ features percussion and vocals from Solo Sanou, an artist whose roots lie in Burkina Faso - though he’s based in Toulouse, where the album was recorded.
Comprised seven Afro house cuts that utilise organic instrumentation and Solo’s raw, emotive voice, the album is the second installment in a series of five long-players recorded by Mowgan in the space of a year. This new LP goes deep into the heart of Africa’s rich musical culture, delivering contagious rhythms, rousing atmospherics and a pure, organic, unadulterated sound that has been cultivated through electrifying jam sessions at Mowgan’s studio. Also featured on ‘Soya’ are Yoan Hernandez and Yaya Dembele who play guitar, Gauthier Djalate on bass, alongside Mamadou ‘Madou’ Dembele, a multi-instrumentalist who plays flute and ngoni, while also handling backing vocals with Adama Coulibaly aka Demsi and teaming up for a duet with Solo on ‘Badenya’. Another vocalist, Fanta, was intrinsic to this LP. The granddaughter of renowned Malian performer Kandia Kouyaté, Fanta appears on ‘Fatanya’ and is a crucial component of the album’s conception…
The story goes that Mowgan was making an album with Fanta when he realised he needed a percussionist. Fanta brought in Solo Sanou, who was very timid to begin with. Mowgan liked his style and decided to work on some music with Solo separately. As the relationship blossomed, and they recorded more music, Solo brought more and more instruments to Mowgan’s studio. During those sessions Mowgan gently encouraged Solo to try using his voice, eventually he did and, when he heard how good it sounded, ended up singing across the whole LP. So, the beauty of this album, beyond the wonderful instrumentation, is the fact that you’re hearing Solo Sanou sing for the very first time.
With all the songs recorded in his native languages, Bobo and Bambara, ‘Soya’ is an exhilarating blend of electronic production and African influences that emanates a feeling of authenticity throughout. From the opening cut ‘Adamine’, which is about Solo’s first meeting with Mowgan, to ‘Badenya’ which refers to family bonds - “There may be quarrels, but it will never catch fire,” Solo says.
There is social commentary, such as that featured on ‘Fantaya’, which is about poverty - “While some people worry about what they will eat at night, others have fun without worrying about them,” he says.
A soul-nourishing, vibrant and utterly contagious collection of raw, authentic Afro house, ‘Soya’ marks another step forward for Mow Records and a triumph for all the artists involved. Look out for further installments…
Published: 24th February 2020