For over a century, National Geographic has enjoyed immense success promoting the world of science and world history. More than just an iconic magazine, the now multi-media company continues to educate and entertain audiences through TV, film and their music mogul - Nat Geo Music, whose roster includes French-born Bibi Tanga. The musician/songwriter lived in several corners of the world while growing up: The Central African Republic (his parents' birthplace), Moscow , Washington , D.C.
and Paris . Being exposed to those cultures and musical styles, including Afro beat, R&B, jazz and new wave, Tanga fused those influences on his 2000 debut, Le vent qui soufflé, backed by Paris-based funk unit Malka Family. In 2003, Tanga partnered with another fellow countryman, DJ/producer le Professeur Inlassable (The Tireless Professor), for his second project - Yellow Gauze. On their latest collaboration entitled Dunya, Tanga and Inlassable join forces with keyboardist/violinist Arthur Simonini, Malka Family guitarist Rico Kerridge and drummer Arnaud Biscay as Bibi Tanga & the Selenites.
Several tracks on Dunya feed off Tanga's extensive musicality and Inlassable's sonic production strokes. Their capabilities in translating tango and big band jazz into soulful electronic grooves ("Moon" and "Swing Swing" respectively) are mind-boggling. The title track and "Pasi," (performed in Sango - the language of The Central African Republic) fueled with syncopated beats from Africa and the continent's sights and sounds, provide a suitable soundtrack for a National Geographic TV special. "Bonjour Mon Ami Jean" revisits Tanga's childhood memories of Paris in chilled-out, trip-hop fashion. Despite Tanga & the Selenites' admirable efforts on Dunya to mix and match genres with exquisite backdrops, sometimes the experimentations go over the edge ("Gospel Singers"), or the sampled loops overpower the melody ("Let Them Run").
With all the pros and cons, kudos should still go to Nat Geo Music for introducing Tanga & the Selenites' dare-to-be different, multi-cultural fare for a global audience to experience.
Music: 2.5 stars
Vocals: 2.0 stars
Lyrics: 3.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Modestly Recommended
By Peggy Oliver