Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Issa Bagayogo: Timbuktu [Six Degrees, 2002]
After surfacing as a singer expert on the three-stringed kamalé ngoni droning over a drum machine so spare the naive might call it primitive, he leaves the settings to Ali Farka Toure sideman Koko Dembélé and label owner Yves Wernert, who fashion a world music amalgam slyer and slinkier than any kora fusion. True, there are moments when the production almost drowns in comforting gestures. But the groove always rights itself, and the sound effects are obtrusive enough to give kora fans a salutary case of the jitters. A-