Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Pop
Wes has the unmistakable--and very Western--touch of its producer, Michael Sanchez (Deep Forest), but at its heart is the inherently African outlook of Cameroonian Wes Welenga. His songs, delivered in a soulful, often fals... more »
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Wes has the unmistakable--and very Western--touch of its producer, Michael Sanchez (Deep Forest), but at its heart is the inherently African outlook of Cameroonian Wes Welenga. His songs, delivered in a soulful, often falsetto, voice, deal with childhood, the fragility of man, respect for elders, universal consciousness, religion, and matters of the heart. Combining a highly textured orchestration with traditional instruments, synthesizers, and rock guitars, Wes treads a path that weaves between Western pop charts and the Bantou villages of his upbringing, his songs never losing sight of his traditions. Musically, moments of exquisite beauty rub shoulders with beats straight from the dance floor with Wes's lyrical vocals, punctuated with the occasional Pygmy and South African-style choruses. It all makes for a sonic cross-cultural experience with wide appeal. --Derek Rath
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Smooth like Maziwa
Cabir Davis | 03/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the New Age albums that have been churned out, Wes' 'Welenga' remains one of my favorites. I used to have this on cassette years ago, and only recently obtained this beam of heaven on CD. People who haven't heard of Wes may not totally 'get' his music upon the first few listens, but listeners of world music, and in particular of the Deep Forest / Era variety, may find themselves thoroughly enthralled by this fascinating album.Wes was 'discovered' in the early 1990s, and with the help of Deep Forest, who had begun exploring their own musical capabilities with 'Boheme', released his first single 'Alane'. While this is traditional African music, it is also, on the other hand, a sort of electronically-charged dancefloor set of compositions, which is why some conservative world music fans may find it hard to appreciate Wes. However, if you give 'Welenga' more than a few listens, you'll find that its the same boat, if not better, than 'Boheme', Catherine Lara's 'Aral', and even some of the more embraced Real World recordings.The edition available here is the American version, which is a pity. If you are really interested in obtaining the original 'Welenga', try to get your hands on the French release, and if possible, the limited edition one, which has many more tracks than the US release. Of all the editions of 'Welenga', the US version is the worst. Not only did they spoil it by tagging on Wes' worst track to date (he was forced by producers to sing a duet in English - a sort of R&B and rap influenced ditty that is downright terrible) called 'We don't need no war', but they added Wes' tribute song for the World Cup CD a few years ago called 'Midiwa Bol' . This is an upbeat, harmless track, and one that France adopted as its' anthem during the festivities surrounding the days after their win, but it doesn't fit in with the songs here at all. Cut away tracks 9 and 10, and you have just 8 songs remaining, but still, its really worth getting this album just for these gems.'Alane', the first single off this CD, is also perhaps the most hummable and infectious. Hailing universal brotherhood and cosmic divinity, Wes' incredibly childlike yet mature voice is set to the tune of new age harmonies, with an upbeat rhythm that found its way to discos around Europe. 'Alane' is Wes' only real international hit.The second single 'Awa Awa' was also released the same year as 'Alane' but it failed to make a big impression. Its a beautiful, soaring single thats also the opening track on the album, but in some ways it was deemed 'commercially forgettable'. But I was glad to note that the US version of the CD has the full version of this track.'Welenga' has never been released in a fully comprehensive edition. Even the European editions, though pretty thorough, lack the inclusion of some of Wes' most astounding work at this time. The two main tracks that are notorious in their absence, are 'Miguele Song', which Wes co-wrote with Deep Forest, and the simple, stunning 'Doutou', which was released without any promotion as a CD single. If you can get your hands on this one, you'll have your 'Welenga' set all complete. Wes also had a single around this time called 'In Youpendi' for The Lion King Collection, a CD compilation released in Germany.If you're looking for an album that reminds you of 'Boheme', this one would most readily come to mind first. But Wes also carries trace of Tama and Youssou N'Dour, but hes in a totally different class by himself. The music is divine and profound, and you only need to pop this disc into your player for an hour and sit back and listen to his beguiling voice. The liner notes attached to this package give you an insight into Wes' world, and how his spirituality and prayers for a divine unity throughout all the world's peoples has affected his musical sensibilities.My favorite tracks here are of course 'Alane' and 'Awa Awa', but theres one in particular that stands out - 'Ken Mouka' and also the title track. Wes sings with a chorus of African children and women, and at times you really feel transported to the sunny junglescapes of Africa, and the warm happiness their people exude. If you're looking to become a serious Wes collector, you should certainly check out his album that came out just after this one. Wes had parted ways with Deep Forest, and linked with a newer producer. However, with this change came a change in musical styles as well. Wes' second album does not have the same magical quality that his first has. Its amazing how some things have a time and place all its own, and they can never be replicated once again. His followup album 'Sinami' is a perfect example of how sophomore world music efforts only serve to reiterate the greatness of their creator's previous trips to the studio. Do get it if you can find it, but its not as wondrous as 'Welenga' by any means.Remember, theres a whole body of Wes work out there that is rare and out of print. If you're thinking about getting this edition of the CD, go ahead, but also keep your eyes out for the Australian and French editions. Also, keep looking for the 'lost' Wes tracks - songs that he did with Deep Forest that have disappeared into oblivion - 'Ketewi', 'Nemene', and 'Sweet Bitowo'. If you're a serious lover of world music and are interested in expanding your musical tastes and experiences, 'Welenga' by Wes would be a great way to get you started. I can't recommend it highly enough. The only reason I give this release 4 stars instead of 5 is because they lopped some of the best tracks off this US edition."
A Great African album
email@example.com | Edinburgh, Scotland, UK | 11/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Written, Arranged and Produced by Deep Forest's Michel Sanchez, but performed by Camerounian Wes Madiko - this partnership works well as a great bridge between Central African sound (minus marimba) and modern western-European beat. The tracks range from the Shamanic, hypnotic jungle sounds (unmistakibly Deep Forrest-esque) to feel-good Dance tracks which have been great hits from the dance floors of Paris to the Villages around Yaounde. Give dance tracks Awa awa and Alane a listen - they "hold" the album. The rest should grow on you after a while.If you like this album then, I recommend you have a listen to the music of Kanda Bongo Man (from the neighboring Congo), Mory Kante (Guinea) - great dance, Youssou N'Dour (Senegal), Salif Keita (Mali), Angelique Kidjo (Benin) - they are successful artists who carry a similiar feel in their music.Although Welenga has some great tracks - it is quite raw in places which may get you listening only to the first few tracks then switching off -especially as the first few tracks are quite different to the rest of the album. However, even if it is for those first few tracks, it is worth buying this album."
A great album to dance and relax to, African Style!
Renate Reichenbacher | Maine, USA | 01/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had first bought one of the two European import versions of "Welenga-Universal Consciousness" in Germany, the one without the two ending bonus tracks. While I was still there, I found the version with all 14 songs included, and I am very pleased that I own a truly fine CD by a talented Cameroonian such as Wes Madiko. Working With Michel Sanchez of Deep Forest, Wes has produced some mighty good tunes to dance fast to, such as the first single "Alane" and "Ken Mouka", while others like "Mizobiya" and the title cut "Welenga" are good for the slow movers during a dance. I feel that both "Ken Mouka", "Mizobiya" and the ending bonus track "Midiwa Bol (I Love Football) should have been singles in this country, so many more people could have the chance to be exposed to some truly quality world-genre music. I have grown to enjoy it a lot more myself. So, if you can locate a copy of the European version of this album, get it, bring it home or to your favorite dance club, and let others share in the joy of a great Africian creation-"WES". You will not be disappointed, be sure of that!"