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Burkina Electric: 21st-Century African Music

Burkina Electric In Studio On KEXP 1/9/10

A unique collaboration between African and European musicians, Burkina Electric is a group of six performers, singers and dancers from Burkina Faso, Germany and Austria — all now based primarily in New York City.

One of Africa's first electronic acts, the band was formed several years ago by Austrian composer and percussionist Lukas Ligeti, with singer Mai Lingani and guitarist Wende Blass from Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, and electronics wizard Pyrolator from Dusseldorf, Germany.

Ligeti grew up as a classical composer and talented percussionist — not surprising for the son of legendary classical composer Gyorgy Ligeti. But he also fell in love with the music of Africa, and spent time performing and teaching in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ghana, as well as performing with African musicians in Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). This is where he met Lingani and Blass, and when he brought in his friend Pyrolator to create this original sound, which combines a variety of modern electronic instruments with the traditional rhythms and melodies of Burkina Faso. The group is rounded out by the talented singer/dancers Zoko Zoko and Vicky — and you really need to see their live on-stage performances to fully appreciate what they add to Burkina Electric.

Performing for KEXP and The Best Ambiance from the Cutting Room Studios in Manhattan, Burkina Electric performed four songs from its new debut recording, Paspanga. Combining the beautiful vocals of Lingani with the African guitar licks of Blass — mixed with the electronic and percussion wizardry of Lukas Ligeti and Pyrolator — the sound of Burkina Electric is unlike anything else. It's an excitingly new 21st-century interpretation of African music.

Engineered by Anthony "Rocky" Gallo on Jan. 9, 2010.

Copyright 2010 KEXP

Jon Kertzer