Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Lamp Fall redefines the meaning of fusion as Cheikh Lo breathes new life into the genre, seamlesly mixing and blending various influences and sounds from around the globe to create his own style. This approach makes his music a perfect fit for so-called world music, since he has spiritually and sonically fused many kinds of global music here.
Lamp Fall is the first solo album in five years from one of Senegal's most treasured artists. Like all of his previous records, it was made on the road, in a nomadic way, as Lo spent the last five years travelling, soaking up sounds and rhythms, playing with local musicians, and recording in locations such as Dakar, London and Bahia. The result is pure magic. Besides the myriad of African forms, Lo's recording also draws upon various other influences, including flamenco, Cuban guajira, Brazillian samba, funk, reggae and dub. These sounds are best represented on tracks like "Sénégal Brésil," where Lo and Samba N'Dokh (playing the tama drum) are supported by a forty-drum Brazilian troupe; the opening "Sou," with its playful Brazilian sanfona accordion; and "Sante Yalla," with its Cuban leanings.
The songs on Lamp Fall are striking because of the soulfulness and spirituality they embody. On top of that, it's readily evident just how stunning and emotional Lo's voice can be. The reggae-inflected "Bamba Mo Woor" is a praise song for the founder of Mouridism, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba. Apparently Lo is a Baye Fall, a member of a mystical brotherhood within the larger Islamic brotherhood of the Mourides, which helps give his music a transcedent spirituality.
With this recording Lo takes a journey through cities and villages known and unknown, seen and unseen. Each of the songs on Lamp Fall has a distinct power, drawing from many influences while keeping their heart planted firmly in Senegal." -AllAboutJazz
Dirty Linen (p.92) - "[With] rich textures....The instruments -- and there's a profusion of them, including sitar, Brazilian flute, Hammond organ, electric balafon, violin, and bass clarinet -- are lightly feathered throughout."
Personnel: Cheikh Lô (vocals, drums, percussion); Dave Okumu (guitar, electric guitar); Lamine Faye, Lamine Faye (guitar); Oumar Sow (electric guitar); Boghan Costa (berimbau, congas, djembe, pandeiro); Léo Bit Bit (berimbau, pandeiro); Felipe Pinheiro de Souza (violin); Sanou Diouf (flute, saxophone); Paulinho Andrade (flute, soprano saxophone); Pee Wee Ellis (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Matt Holland, Byron Wallen (trumpet); Tim Smart, Fayyaz Virji (trombone); Madou Diabate, Arona Barry (keyboards); Pepe Cisneros (string synthesizer); Erick Firmino, Etienne Mbappé (bass guitar); Badou N'Diaye (drums); Samba N'Dokh (talking drum); Grupo Ilê Aiyê (caixa, surdo); Sandro Santos (castanets); Samba NDokh MBaye (sabar); Crispin Cerqueira (wood block); Thio M'Baye, Thio M'Baye, Saliou Seck (percussion); Candeal Girls, Tita Alves, Angela Loppo, Juciara Carvalho (background vocals); Adson Santana (guitar, sitar, viola); Davi Moraes (guitar, sitar, drums).
Audio Mixer: Jerry Boys.
Audio Remixer: Jerry Boys.
Recording information: Dakar, Senegal; Livingston Studios; London, England; Salvador De Bahia, Bahia, Brazil; Studio 2000.
Editor: Tom Leader.
Photographers: Youri Lenquette; Alfonso Sitjä.
Translator: Marie Claire Boisset Pestourie.
Lamp Fall is the first international release from the Senegalese singer/songwriter and guitarist Cheikh Lô. Issued on World Circuit, it is a collection of traditional and original songs that heavily showcase his trademark mbalax drums, reggae grooves, and funky polyrhythms, with a host of colors and textures added by widely varying instrumentation. This time out, Lô goes to Brazil for inspiration -- about half the album's tracks were recorded in Bahia. Lamp Fall's opener, "Sou," is a traditional song with a radically different arrangement. It is sung in Bambara, the language Lô learned in Burkina Faso. It is a Mandinka song in origin, and comes form Mali. One can heard the Brazilian feel here in the employment of a sanfona accordion -- a close relative of the bandoneon. It is juxtaposed against a talking drum, as Lô's falsetto carries its melody -- a love song -- over. The title track was one of many recorded in Dakar and in London. Lamp Fall is a tribute to Cheikh Ibra Fall, a religious leader whose faith Lô belongs to. What's startling is the opening guitar chord, which sounds like it could have been lifted off James Blood Ulmer's Are You Glad to Be in America? Saxophone great Pee Wee Ellis blows hard and funky here against crisscrossing rhythms by Saliou Seck, accented by a Crescent City piano vamp played by Arona Barry. The Brazilian feel comes to the fore in "Satta Kaani Xeen," where castanets, wood blocks, cajon, and berimbau make up the main body of the tune lyrically and rhythmically. The band here is large, with a sitar, tama, bass clarinet, and Paulinho Andrade's flute orchestrating the melody. Ellis is heard fiercely in "Bamba Mo Woor," over the top of twin electric guitars riffing like hell, and fronting both Bigga Morrisson's Hammond B-3 and the rest of a horn section featuring Byron Wallen on trumpet and Tim Smart on trombone. The reggae groove here is deeply dread, shuffling and slipping along a bubbling bassline and Lô's sweet -- but not saccharine -- falsetto vocals. The only pure mbalax tune here is "Fattaliku Dëmb," where Lô plays a mean flamenco-style rhythm guitar part over the rolling drums and pumped bassline. It also features a fine guitar solo by Lamine Faye. In sum, Lamp Fall is a further extension of the already heady mix of styles, rhythms, and harmonics Lô has amassed over the past decade and a half. It's an utter joy in that it's so dense that most of its secrets won't be revealed until many repeated listenings are undertaken. That said, its sunny sheen and easy, airy atmosphere are intoxicating and elegant. This is early candidate for one of the best recordings of 2006. ~ Thom Jurek
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