Lost In Mali - Various Artists on LP + Download
The music: deep drums, plucky strings and soulful voices. The food: bubbling rice, millet, sorghum and fonio adorned with rich meat and vegetable sauces. The politics: tense, taut and scarred by a minority group of religious extremists. Timbuktu simmers, Bamako bubbles and this album takes you to Mali's musical boiling point. Lost In Mali opens with an immersive sound-scape from the streets of Mali; children's lilting laughter peppers the lower ululations of wise adult chatter, grinding work sounds and distant honking traffic. Woven into the commonplace sounds of everyday life, we can hear the cadence and rhythms of Malian music bound deeply within.
Riverboat Records' Lost In... series beams you straight to far flung locations. What's more, all of the tracks presented here are new and original recordings by brand-new artists. This is the music that really is out there and being listened to right now. The album was compiled by on-the-ground experts Philippe Sanmiguel and Paul Chandler. Sanmiguel manages and produces Malian artists such as Samba Touré and Anansy Cissé, while Chandler runs Studio Mali, a production company, recording studio and record label based in Bamako.
Opening track "Ne Sabou" spotlights Nainy Koné's sultry and smooth vocal performance. Tama (talking drum) is heard bending and braiding through the texture, atop looping strings and impatient shaker. Koné's father was from Segou, the same region as Bwazan, the band who contribute "An Ka Foli Ke." The balafon (xylophone) and the doundoun, djembe, yabarra and barra traditional drums are heard prominently here, rolling and repeating in a manner that directly calls to mind the work of the American minimalism movement led by composers Glass, Reich and Riley, who were of course influenced by exactly this sort African polyrhythmic repetition. Also linked to the Segou region is track "Yawoyé" from veteran musician Sabu Dorienté. Dorienté hails from Timbuktu but played in the Orchestre Régional De Ségou for many years.
Ali Baba Cissé is from the rich musical soils of Niafunké. His song "Kaya," in rootsy Fulani style, is laid-back and languorous starring acoustic guitar, ngoni (lute), monochord and calabash (drum). Bocar Sangaré also from Niafunké, is a traditional Fulani musician who plays regularly for local weddings and celebrations but has never before recorded his sound in the studio. "Diaru" opens with a recitative, followed by a passionately sung refrain of a traditional theme which celebrates peace and joyful reunions. Also from Niafunké and continuing the theme of peaceful reconciliation are the band Alkibar Junior, former students of Afel Bocoum who carry on his musical legacy. Their song "La Paix" is a call for peace and harmony following the occupation of Niafunké by militant separatist rebels and religious extremists back in 2012.
Linked to the simmering social issues currently present in Malian society, all of the songs on this album emit moral messages or contain symbolic historic reflections. Kabako Bourama is from the Wassoulou region of Southern Mali and uses the kamele ngoni harp on the happy track "Louansé." Here Ramata Diakité's lyrics speak of the hardships facing Malians who are seeking housing. "Djagatoula" by Barou Drame tells of the mystical power of ancient hunters who have passed through the sacred Djagatoula forest. "Farinya Manji" implores listeners to practice kindness to one another. This track was recorded by the orchestra of The Bamako School for the Blind – the very same educational institution where superstars Amadou & Mariam first met. Modiba Diabaté sings "Bonya" and implores rich Malians to invest their wealth back into their motherland.
Finding ourselves in Bamako, Mali's capital, urban styles seep into the groove. Reggae rides high on
"Adjobawla" by Kas 2 Kastro, who works in the Malian capital. Baba MD (aka Mamoutou Dembele) is famed in the Bamako clubs for mixing Bwa traditional tunes with kora and other Mandingue instrumentation. Head off the beaten track to explore Mali's inspirational new artists from Bamako to Timbuktu.