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Dieuf-Dieul De Thiès
Dieuf-Dieul De Thiès
Buda Musique
Review by Bruce Miller

cd cover This band makes a strong argument for the power of reissue labels. When Adamantios Kafetzis started his Dakar-based label, Teranga Beat, he had an ear toward finding previously unearthed recordings of classic-era Senegambian acts such Dexter Johnson and Guelewar. Yet, subsequent releases managed to find entire bands worthy of anything the region produced who had never even made albums. As a result, two astounding volumes of Dieuf-Dieul’s only known recordings came out in 2013 and 2015, and a band who had split in 1983 without ever releasing a record suddenly had something of a global audience. Because of renewed interest, a re-constituted lineup began playing Europe in 2017 to enthusiastic crowds. Ultimately, it’s difficult to imagine their 40-years-late, self-titled debut album, or their recent shows without Kafetzis’s sonic archaeology. And not a moment too soon either, as one of the only two founding members present on this recording, guitarist Papa Seck, died prior to this album’s release.

And despite being an almost entirely different line-up (only vocalist Bassirou Sarr and the late Seck are present), they seem to pick up right where they left off. Mbalax rhythms underpin split-second horn blasts, hypnotic, stoned discharges of Seck’s fuzz-drenched lead guitar, and Sarr’s deep, soaring vocals. Recorded on Analog equipment brought to St. Louis, Senegal from France, with the rhythm section recorded live while vocals and horns were tracked in separate booths, the music percolates, complimenting their earlier work without feeling forced or antiquated. Opening track “Na Bineta” wastes no time establishing a minor-key, single-chord vamp with a declamatory trombone riff underpinning Sarr, before he gives way, first to Seck’s fuzz and then a saxophone, the band all the while locked tight. Elsewhere on the album, there’s constant forward thrust akin to ska, (“Am Sa Waay”) or splashes of reggae (“Djirim”), but once the music settles in, a rhythm unique to Africa’s westernmost region is clearly established.

The band has also seen fit to include two live tracks for the CD version recorded in the Netherlands in 2017. Because these are the longest tracks on the record as well, they allow the band time to stretch, driving their audience into ecstatic states, their grooves building and cresting like waves. For those who see Dieuf-Dieul de Thies’ original recordings coming at the end of sub-Saharan Africa’s musical golden age, the sounds here demonstrate how current what the original band established 40-odd years ago remains.

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The CDs were donated by our friends at Buda Musique, and we thank them for their support.

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