I won't enter into a too detailed description of the plugin itself, but being experienced on western African cultures, i might have a good critical view on this instrument.
Regardless of it official focus (giving an african colors to western music production) i admire here something that isn't obvious judging by the demos songs that you may listen on NI site, ...but these guys have made a tremendous work in reproducing as accurately as possible the original grooves and scales of traditional musics of this area of subsaharian Africa.
For the Insiders, populations of Mali and Guinea are mainly from Manding cultures that own likely the most compatible scale to be adapted to chromatic intervals, This to say that it was an intelligent choice because the majority of negro-african scales, (as the Senoufo ones from instance, that lives in the same area) are frankly achromatic, also to consider that manding scales are probably the only ones in entire Black Africa to be heptatonic (rather than pentatonic)...so very obvious to adapt to a corresponding diatonic scale (among the melodic instruments, listen to Bolon and especially the Kora tuned in a root scale, almost identical to a C Myxolidian, and of course all the balafons that nearly matches a C major scales natively !)
As said above i, for one, appreciate the accuracy in reproducing all the traditional music listed, especially the ones written into complex signatures, that are very typical from western africa, (but perhaps less compatible with all the invading binary signatures of almost all international/commercial musics)
The articulations are brilliantly laid out and let you recreate with incredible fidelity you own interpretation of these rhythms, i have instantly the feeling to be back in Burkina Faso when playing it !, ... this is where this library really shines and apart some short sampled phrases, the very well conceived, included sequencer is undoubtedly the main responsible of the crime .
A few regret though, some western-african instruments are missing, the Kunde, (a plucked string instrument common in Burkina Faso) for instance and, way more emblematic : Longa, tama, etc...all the talking drums of these african countries...too bad !!.
Also, the multisampling and articulations of all these instruments are very well made for the peculiar context (to emulate traditional western-african bands efficiently), but poor for a use out of this ethnomusical context as lead, single solo instruments interpretation in a foreign context, as a skilled performer of the real instrument would be capable. On that purpose the Djembes included into Culture, for instance, benefit of both a more effective multisampling and key's distribution through the keyboard (for both hands) to reproduce a djembe's solo interpretation easily at your fingertips.
Nevertheless, i just think it' would be unfair to not underline that this plugin reach fully it challenge, considering it primary purpose to give a touch of authentic traditional black-african feel at most aspects (sounds, phrases and complete grooves) to a modern production, and this at a reasonable price...
I really love the samples from this plugin / sample set, as well as those from NI Cuba.
However, I'm a bit disappointed that there is nothing on offer from NI for the music / instruments typical to Asian countries. You could do a whole plugin just on Indian percussion instruments. Actually, you could do a whole plugin just on the various ways / styles to play tabla. And what about Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, The Pacific Islands etc? And the Middle East? NI Balinese Gamelan sounds good for what it is, but it's not quite "drums."
Does anyone know of a plugin / sample set that features such instruments? Specifically, I'm looking for the wav files - the instrument/plugin itself is not important to me. Somethign that has the supior soudn quality lke NI. I can fidn little one-off stuff online (djembe set here, tabla set there), but they lack the sonic breadth and sound quality that NI accomplished with West Africa and Cuba.