Putumayo Kids Presents: African Dreamland
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2008, Volume 15, #6
Written by John Metzger
Mon June 2, 2008, 10:30 AM CDT
The objective behind Putumayo’s Dreamland series is a tremendously difficult — though not entirely impossible — feat to achieve. Essentially, the collections have been designed with the specific intent of lulling a child to sleep, but the challenge stems from the notion that each of the endeavors also has to be interesting and desirable. Undeniably, this is a tricky path to tread, and although Putumayo has assembled numerous exquisite compilations of world music, the albums it has issued under its Dreamland moniker have been something of a mixed bag.
Not surprisingly, African Dreamland, Putumayo’s latest offering, also is somewhat uneven. As it progresses, it necessarily becomes increasingly sedate. More often than not, however, it does succeed in finding the proper balance. The outing opens with Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Nomathemba, which — considering the group has become widely known for its work with Paul Simon — provides an easy entrance to the endeavor. As always, the outfit’s tightly knit harmonies are sublime. When the song is combined with Mapumba’s Mimi, which immediately follows it, the ambience that is evoked dutifully captures the soothing air of twilight.
The messages, which lie at the heart of the material on African Dreamland, provide comfort and hope, and despite the different languages that are spoken and the different countries that are represented, this mood translates consistently and cohesively through the surrounding music. The instrumentation — which ranges from Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko’s kora accompaniments on Salaman to the balafón that graces Famora Dioubaté’s Douyoré — is hypnotic and lovely. From Kaïssa’s gentle lullaby Lonon to Habib Koité & Bamada’s almost baroque-sounding Mali Sadio, African Dreamland settles sweetly into a groove that is quiet, alluring, and peaceful, and it’s certain to stimulate the imagination and provide a restful sleep.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box