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‘Musow Danse’- An album that can’t be listened to just once

Stephen and Helen Jones – Flickr

Malian supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique has set the bar incredibly high with their latest releases. “Musow Danse,” which translates to “Women’s Dance,” is filled to the brim with booming synths, driving drums that never seem to waver and a powerful message paired with impressive vocals that puts opera to shame. 

The group was founded in 2015 by renowned singers Mariam Doumbia, Oumou Sangaré and Mamani Keïta to champion women’s rights and bring awareness to the vast societal issues African women face. Over time, multiple new members joined the group, with the total number reaching nine members at the time of the release of “Musow Danse.”

Les Amazones d’Afrique has not only maintained and prioritized an important social message by means of an ever-changing lineup, but the group has also consistently delivered truly stellar works of music. “Musow Dance” is no exception.

Compared to Les Amazones’ previous releases, this newest effort certainly takes a more dance-centric approach, with some tracks leaving the uniquely timed drum beats out of the mix in favor of a more standard 4/4 progression. Despite changes in the rhythm, the message of Les Amazones d’Afrique remains true. The majority of the songs on this album deal with issues women face daily and praise the progress that has begun to come about. 

The album certainly keeps listeners on their toes, being comprised of short, hard-hitting songs. The distinctive time signatures and whopping 11 languages featured are a definite treat, especially for the uninitiated ear. 

The songs that make up “Musow Danse” perfectly reflect the group’s ability to remain faithful to the folk rhythms and instrumentation that spawned generations of music, while not being afraid to experiment with the fresh and bright styles of modern Afropop. The track “Queen Kuruma” clearly displays this, with its unique time signatures, ground-shaking bassy synths and the moving choral sections merging to create a uniquely empowering track that one can’t help but move to. 

The main draw of this album is almost certainly the vocals. The multiple vocalists within Les Amazones d’Afrique combine their powers to create inspiringly beautiful vocal harmonies dripping with passion, heart and sometimes a sarcastic vindication. A few spots on this album allow the lively beats and shapeless synths to take a back seat. 

However, tracks such as “Espérance” use a dreamy, floating strummed guitar to keep the tempo and let the vocals take the spotlight, which makes for a truly tranquil piece that still holds onto the passion and authenticity that defines the project.

“Musow Danse” easily strides its way into the upper echelons of the African musical tradition, with its commanding vocals, full-toned synths, hypnotic harmonies and timely message coming together for an imposing piece. The vast number of instruments and sounds give the listener hours upon hours of replay value, with each listen guaranteed to be distinct from the last. Having outdone themselves with this most recent effort, “Musow Danse” is sure to stick around for a long time to come.

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