My dad somehow acquired Idrissa Diop’s experimental album Tribal Pursuit, circa 1991-1992. It does not sound at all like the kind of music he would listen, and in fact I have never seen him buy anything musical for himself but classical and jazz CDs. It might have been a gift. I have never heard him play the album.
Anyway, I was really intrigued by the weird CGI cover and ended up giving the CD a spin (i.e. outright stealing the album from my dad’s collection). It ended up being one of my most played CDs of that time, to the point that I wore it down. Fast forward about 15 years, middle of the last decade. It was very easy to find music online, whether legally on iTunes, murkily on budding video platforms such as Youtube, or plain illegally. Yet, when I got nostalgic and wanted to listen to the album again, I could never ever find it. It finally got uploaded about 6 years ago, on an official Idrissa Diop channel on Youtube. Most of the tracks barely reach 100 views.
All those clues tell me « nobody knows about Idrissa Diop’s Tribal Pursuit. » It would be best described as an experimental Jazz-inspired Senegalese electronic music album. The different tracks do a good job bridging the 80’s and 90’s. Conversely, some segments would probably fit in the « music that makes you think of video games » topic. I think is has aged pretty well, thanks to the eclectism of the album. Some tracks need to be given a few chances to be liked but others are pure earworms. The drums are notably dope on the entire album. (More on that later.) My favorite of the ten tracks is the third song, Problem A. Here is the entire playlist :
I think this will become a familiar story for many of the artists featured in this topic, but Diop is much better known within the music industry for his participation to other people’s albums, and he was known through the 80’s and 90’s, among a certain audience, as one of the most accomplished percussionists for jazz albums and concert scenes. Hence, I gathered belatedly, the care for proper drumbeats in his own album.
I discovered this for the first time when I saw his name in the production notes for St Germain’s album Tourist, which was a smash hit in France when it released – probably the last mainstream jazz hit. I have no idea if the album was a success in other countries but I think at least this track made the rounds.
That being said, Diop did find success pretty early on in his home country of Senegal and the Internet claims he was one of their most influencial artists in the formative years of the modern Senegalese music industry during the 70’s. What’s striking about Tribal Pursuit is that it does not really resemble anything else he worked on before or after. Only one track « Nobel » is still in his repertoire. He actually recycled the song in a different album.
Diop is now 71 and still active ; he celebrated his career’s 50th anniversary last year as covered here by a French radio.