Wau Wau Collectif’s second album, Mariage, is instilled with a newfound sense of purpose. Expanding upon the inspirational themes of their acclaimed 2021 debut, Yaral Sa Doom (Educate The Young), this long-distance collaboration from musicians in Senegal, led by Aurora Kane, and Sweden’s Karl Jonas Winqvist is an even more stylistically expansive affair. Joyful children’s songs collide with fuzzy guitar solos and thumping hip-hop beats. Shimmering synths lift off from the plunky percussion of the balafon and versatile sounds of the 22-string kora. Familiar voices from the first album return with more explicitly political lyrics, while the music feels both rhythmically dense and sonically weightless, flowing from one spellbinding moment to the next.
Some of the rhythms that laid the foundation for Wau Wau Collectif’s second album were recorded during Winqvist's 2018 Senegal trip that ignited the project, with a core group of musicians who may now be familiar to fans of their debut. These include flute master Ousmane Ba, whose softly rippling tone punctuates the bounce of “Necessaire” and frantically dances throughout “Mariage Force.” On “Baye Kate”, rapper Babacar “Babadi” Diol growls and rolls his Rs over swirling synths in a heartfelt tribute to farmers. Arouna Kane’s echo-drenched vocals return on “Le repair spirituel,” before he removes all effects on intimate closer “Liguey Len,” strumming so quietly that you can hear cars honking and crickets chirping in the background.
For Mariage, band members from each country were inspired to include a wider array of instrumental flourishes unique to their cross-continental collaboration. “Yay Balma” revolves around the cycling riffs of Jango Diabaté’s xalam guitar, as this song’s fuzzy tones and soaring sax solos open side two with a bang. “Pitchi Goubidi” provides a stark contrast, with the kora played like a harp and Gilbert Badji’s gravelly lyrics about “the bird of the night” disappearing into dubbed-out chamber pop. Winqvist’s omnichord hovers back into focus on “Yonou Natangue,” a free-floating jam that maintains the messages of Wau Wau Collectif’s debut, promoting youth education to address the social issues facing contemporary Senegal: “Peace is the better wealth / The way to wander.”
Sadly, flute player Ousmane Bah passed away after the completion of the album. Wau Wau Collectif wishes to dedicate Mariage to his memory.