05/09/2018: “Sisini” by Super Biton De Segou

“Sisini”, or “Siseni”, is a song by the most famous national orchestra of Mali. Similar to the other African orchestras featured on this blog, Le Super Biton De Segou blends modern techniques and instruments with traditional melodies and sounds, to make very interesting and unique music.

They were created to compete in music competitions in Mali called Biennales, where they represented the city of Segou. Because they beat orchestras from other regions all the time, they essentially became Mali’s national orchestra.

The singers are very good and respected, but the star for me is the guitarist, Mama Sissoko. His deft playing is exotic, but the virtuosity is immediately evident. On “Sisini”, the guitar is especially prominent, with some singing that sounds great regardless of any language barriers, and some slightly wistful horns.

The song is apparently about not being jealous, but to English speakers the rhythmic and melodic brilliance stands by itself anyway.

Unlike some other orchestras, like the one from Guinea featured before on this blog (Balla et ses Balladins), the African folk influence is drawn from the bambara tradition rather than the bardic Griot one. So the music is more energetic, which explains the pacy rhythm section and horns on this track!

The song was released in 1977 on an album titled Le Super Biton National De Ségou. It was re-issued on vinyl but luckily the song is widely available on the internet, even on Spotify. What a time to be alive!


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