WE WERE THREE
You remember the wonder when you opened a pop-up picture book as a child? The sheer magic of each double-page spread springing to life? This album is like that, as first one mystery unfolds, then another. Boulmamine has a gauzy weaves of piano, cello and m’bira, before Mola Sylla’s voice suddenly rushes us to a place of vivid colour and gripping drama. Such staggering contrasts encapsulate the latest offering from Sylla (also percussion and the stringed xalam), cellist Ernst Reijseger and pianist Harmen Fraanje.
On one level you hear dialogues between Europe and Africa, and between formal composition and wide-ranging improvisation, but the pop-up book wonder is that the joins and folds don’t show. Startling music keeps rising up before your ears and jump-starting your heart. Sylla’s voice is vast and stark, yet so warm that the bluesy Xeeg will melt your bones. Reijseger has few peers for imaginative scope as an improvising cellist, while Fraanje, himself a brilliant soloist, never overloads the music with harmonic information, but maintains a suppleness that makes the sudden changes in texture, drama and melodic direction seem retrospectively inevitable. Among the world’s great bands.