Much has been made of the perfect love held by musical duo/real-life couple, Amadou and Mariam, hailing from Mali, both blind and both as melodious as each other. They are perfect foils and mirrors for the other and together they create a joyous sound that twists and subverts their traditional Malian music into something contemporary and tinged with Western influences. A lot of that on this album can be attributed to their involvement in African Express and the subsequent help lent by Damon Albarn to the album. Opener, 'Sabali' could be a Gorrillaz tune, with its electronics and plinked and plonked thumb pianos while Mariam wails lovingly to her star-crossed lover. 'Ce N'est Pas Bon' features Albarn's participation (whatever that means) are more uptempo, featuring electronica soundscapes and a funky guitar and repeated joyous refrain meaning that it's not good, it's not good. It's a unifying sound, so pure and full of verve and vitality, so steeped in positive vibes that it's almost impossible to feel anything but joyful listening to it. With its Afrobeat foundations and the influence of Wstern sounds, it is an almost perfect modern African fusion album, however it falls prey to an arduous running time and each song tends to linger too long at the end, happy to jam till infinity. Album highlight is the hip-hop consciousness anthem 'Africa' featuring rapper K'Naan, and apart from the Albarn-influenced songs, 'Je Te Kiffe' is sexy and sweet all at the same tim, skipping along at a funky pace. Amadou and Mariam are perfect summertime festival music so it's a bit of a contrast listening to their album in sombre November. Having seen them light up the skies at Latitude this year, I can safely say they know how to rock a party and sometimes the songs shine through better when stripped away of everything except their core Malian roots folk heart. Amadou and Mariam are the voice of Africa now and it's exciting to hear how they wish to widen their influences to contemporary music from the rest of the world. But truth be told, the Malian foundations they bring are enough to make an excellent heartfelt beautiful collection of songs.
Hello and welcome and yeah... in an oversaturated blog-o-glob... we throw our 2 dubloons in.
Avocado Picker: 28, author, journalist... specialist subjects include: the Wire, the post X-Files career of Agent Scully, Bollywood music 1950-1970, Spider-man, Dare Devil, The Sopranos, British comedy 1990-present, the complete works of Chuck Palahniuk and Aniruddha Bahal, Arnie films pre- True Lies, and different uses for cheese in culinary situations.
The Mystery Voice: 30, software engineer, time waster... specialist subjects include: Linux (etc), C++ & PHP (and other animals, yawn), Physics (blah), British comedy past and present (yay), grand master Mornington Crescent (huh?), the incomplete works of Douglas Adams and Bill Bailey (wtf?)