1-2 Weeks
Pekos/Yoro Diallo

YY 001CD YY 001CD

Yaala Yaala is a new Drag City world music imprint, run by Jack Carneal. "The name Yaala Yaala was taken directly from what many a Bougounian musician would answer when asked 'Ca va?' (how's it going?); 'Yaala yaala,' they'd answer. Just wandering. Yaala Yaala Records' goal is to release this music, in addition to similar music from parts of the world, particularly Mali and West Africa, that you might hear if you were wandering yourself among the cassette stalls in Bougouni, Bamako, Kolondieba, Sikasso, Segou, Fez, Marrakesh, Cairo, Dakar. We're releasing this music for no other reason than we like it! One afternoon while meandering through Bougouni's sole market, a line of tar paper and lean-to shanties, I heard what initially sounded like an insane man giving birth. Listening more closely, I heard an insistent and funky beat percolating forth from the shadows of my main cassette man Abdoulaye's stall, interspersed with the utterances of the same man who sounded so insane; now he sounded as if he was gargling glass. I wandered into Abdoulaye's place and pointed at the boombox. He immediately started laughing. The tape was recorded in Kolondieba, he thought, a village not too far from Bougouni. The performers, Pekos and Yoro Diallo, were quite popular in the region. They were playing electrified ngonis in something like the kamelen or 'youth' style. Ngonis are large spike lutes; a four to five foot length of wood or reed is jammed into a hollowed out gourd and strings, often fishing line, are connected from a bridge at the base of the instrument to the end of the neck. Only the fancier ngonis have tuning pegs; most are tuned by pushing the strings with the thumbs to within a range that satisfies the player or the notes of a particular pentatonic scale. Since it's basically a harp there is no fretting of notes. Abdoulaye was able to tell me that these guys would put old mics inside of the gourds of their ngonis, run it to a preamp and thence to one of the ubiquitous horn speakers that serve as p.a.'s throughout Mali. As with just about all of the music I listened to in Mali, I have no idea what they're singing about but I do know they're reciting litanies of names. Many who sing in the griot style are meant to be subservient to the wider public subservient but elevated so they are probably being prompted, usually by the laying of small bills or coins at their feet, to sing about how great Coulibaly is, Sidibe is, what a strong man Traore is, etc."