After Guinea won independence in 1958, President Sekou Toure launched a cultural revolution he called Authenticite, which after more than 70 years of colonial rule and suppression of all things African, aimed to promote and celebrate authentic African culture. A primary area of focus was the arts, particularly music. Bands like Bembeya Jazz and Balla et Ses Balladins were subsidized by the government and Guinea saw an unparalleled flowering of creativity. Music and art festivals abounded...concerts--the nation was for the first time filled with hope and possibility.
The Authenticite movement began to fade along with Sekou Toure's descent into paranoia as his regime became increasingly violent and oppressive. But the music created in Guinea from the mid '60s to the late '70s is some of the greatest, most groundbreaking ever made. Most was recorded at the famed Syliphone recording studios. The songs recorded there have an entirely unique sound, an echoey, haunting down-the-hallway type feel. Gorgeous horns, floating electric guitars and ridiculously complex drum patterns weave sounds in and out of your head. Bembeye Jazz's N'Gnamakoro with "Diamond Finger" Diabate's magical guitar nicely demonstrates this feel: