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Amadou And Mariam'
Welcome To MaliWelcome to Mali, the second Nonesuch effort from Malian duo Amadou & Mariam has already garnered rapturous reviews from critics in Europe, where it was released in late 2008. The album appeared on many year-end best-of lists; Londons Sunday Mirror declared, African pop doesnt get more effervescent and joyful than the sound of this blind couple dueling together and sending their message of love around the globe. Simply wonderful.
American audiences were introduced to the married pair, who met at a Malian school for the blind, with its Nonesuch debut Dimanche à Bamako, produced by the Paris-based world-music provocateur Manu Chao. With Chao behind the wheel, the album was like an exhilaratingly bumpy taxi ride straight into the heart of the Malian capital; cacophonous sounds of the streets mixed in with the spare, propulsive rhythms of the songs, making it all sound thrillingly immediate. Amadou & Mariam, already into the second decade of their overseas career, attracted an impressively wide-ranging state side audience, from world music stalwarts to clubgoers to indie rockers.
Welcome to Mali, recorded in Bamako, Dakar, Paris and London and produced with longtime manager Marc-Antoine Moreau, is less high-concept travelogue than straightforward set, yet it proves to be even more adventurous and exuberantly rocking. Damon Albarn briefly joins the pair, co-producing and co-writing the opening track Sabali, as ingeniously arranged as the best of his work with the Gorillaz and featuring Mariams almost otherworldly vocals over swirls of disco-style keyboards. Amadou has long spoken of his affection for classic rock and it shows in his playing; Londons Independent calls Welcome to Mali a rock album with an African Heart. Theres a bit of Yardbirds-era swinging London, keyboard arrangements that wouldnt be out of place in a Parisian disco, hip hop breaks from Toronto-based Somalian rapper Knaan and the occasional garage-rock riff, as well as traditional touches courtesy of fellow Malian Toumani DiabatÉ and his magical kora playing. A deep undercurrent of the blues, an arguably indigenous Malian sound that migrated to the Mississippi delta, runs through the disc. Says Uncut, Amadous slithering, grinding guitar riffs sound dark and spiky, the missing link between Ali Farka TourÉ and Steve Cropper.1. Sabali (prod. Damon Albarn)
2. Ce Nest Pas Bon (w/ Damon Albarn)
6. Je Te Kiffe (feat. Juan Rozoff)
7. Masiteladi (feat. M)
8. Africa (feat. Knaan)
9. Compagnon de la Vie
10. Unissons Nous (feat. Keziah Jones)
12. I Follow You (Nia Na Fin)
13. Welcome to Mali
15. Sebeke$24.99Vinyl LP w/ CD - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Amadou & Mariam have long cultivated a spirit of openness that they often put into practice with musicians from all backgrounds and styles. Their journeys have allowed the couple to forge lasting friendships. M. and Vincent Segal were their guests, Keziah Jones and K'naan also interacted, the Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf and British guitarist Johnny Marr were invited to jam while Manu Chao and Damon Albarn produced them with skill. No doubt, the Malian couple's history is written in the plural suggestive of their affinities.
Their land, Mali, is currently one of the most attractive centers of globalized music. The couple still draws from their region's inspiration, a living spring they draw from beyond their region. Such is the strength of Folila, reflecting a growing openness to the world of music. The idea was to produce two albums: a crossover in New York, centered around meetings, and the other more roots in Bamako, with guests mainly African, says Marc-Antoine Moreau, their loyal manager and artistic director, with sound engineer Antoine Halet.
Stage one was recorded in three weeks at the Cooper Square Hotel, which accommodated multiple guests, including Santigold, who puts her voice on Dougou Badia. Tunde and Kyp, the two poets of the combo TV On The Radio, slide naturally on Wally Katasso, a ballad mixed by Keni Takamoto, the sound engineer for Danger Mouse. As for Theophilus London, the young poet prints a subtle flow of soul-jazz onto Nebe Meri, perfectly fitting with Amadou's blues accents.
Other esthete of great black music, Amp Fiddler brings some Detroit soul on Wari, before lending his keyboard lines onto Africa My Africa, boosted by Antibalas' section, the Afro-funk combo from Brooklyn, whose brass gleam here and there. As for Jake Shears, the soul of Scissor Sisters and a fan of the couple since a tour together in England, he served his high-pitched voice on the haunting disco blues of Metemya. Last but not least, Ebony Bones puts fire on C'est Pas Facile, a track that flirts with Congolese rumba and electro sounds.
During stage two of the process, it was back to Bamako, for another three-week session, this time in the studios of Manjul, a prominent rastaman installed in Mali. He has a clear idea: to use the same basic track, the same tempo, the same tones, but putting it into perspective with long-time friends, like the percussionist Boubacar DembelÉ and Yaho the totemic bassist, and guests.
Judge for yourself: Bassekou KouyatÉ and his ngoni, Idrissa Soumaoro on kamele ngoni, Toumani DiabatÉ on kora, Zu Tereta on monochord fiddle, Tuareg guitarist Abdallah Oumbadougou: all the best subtle strings of the universe are on this record. This album sounds at once organic and electronic, both roots and rock, both retro and futuristic, and totally unlike anything else.1. Dougou Badia (feat. Santigold)
2. Wily Kataso (feat. Tunde & Kyp of TV On The Radio)
3. Oh Amadou (feat. Bertrand Cantat)
4. Metemya (feat. Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters)
5. Africa Mon Afrique (feat. Bertrand Cantat)
6. C'est Pas Facile Pour Les Aigles (feat. Ebony Bones)
7. Wari (feat. Amp Fiddler)
8. Nebe Miri (feat. Theophilus London)
9. Another Way (feat. Bertrand Cantat)
10. Bagnale (feat. Abdallah Oumbadougou)
11. Mogo (feat. Bertrand Cantat)
12. Sans Toi
13. ChÉrie$32.99Vinyl LP w/ CD - Sealed Buy Now
Music In ExileDebut Album Produced by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Marc-Antoine Moreau (Amadou & Mariam, K'naan)
Their deep attachment to the home grown songs and dances of the Songhoy, both traditional styles and the modern guitar based sounds popularised by the likes of Baba Salah and above all Ali Farka Toure, was helping shape their nascent music which sought to blend the trad and the modern, the homegrown and the foreign, the youthful and the ancient.1. Soubour
3. Al Hassidi Terei
5. Desert Melodie
7. Sekou Oumarou
9. Ai Tchere Bele
11. Petit Metier$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now