Monday, July 9, 2012


I suck at writing album reviews, but hearing a couple of the songs off the new Amadou & Mariam made me look forward to what was to come. Dimanche en Bamako blew me away in the spring of 2007 when I first delved into the waters of that nebulous thing called "world music" which has connotations of boomers trying to get in touch with their nonexistent third world roots and synthesizer heavy overproduced collaborations. The West African sounds, that product of cross-pollination of the blues that crossed over the Atlantic and then bounced back in the 20th century somehow manage to be simultaneously new and somewhat still accessible, those chord changes haven't change that much, I guess and there was enough melancholy to pervade the brightness that it moved me.

"The Magic Couple" of Mali, with a sweet love story and some amazing guitar playing on the part of Amadou, has stuck with me in the subsequent years when I need something that isn't doomy and full of crushing power chordage. Welcome to Mali had the glossy production that still allowed the lovely guitars and the flourishes of balafon and kora shine through even the most pop-like moments, and the collaborators blended seemlessly, so I was looking forward to the next one, despite not being too crazy about seeing that every track had someone different on it.

Dougou Badia, featuring Santigold, who was in a punk band that I liked muchly and now does pop music that I still kind of dig because it's got the same dub/punk/reggae touchstones that I appreciate, like if No Doubt was actually good., lends an immediacy to the opening track, soaring over the guitars and the looping harmonicas. I had this on repeat for a few weeks and passed it around to a few people who I thought might like it.

The next cut has Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio on it, who also had a great cameo on the last Tinariwen record, injecting a beautiful voice and understatedness that gives space for the song to breathe, and I could have listened to the chorus repeat itself ala oldschool Faith No More, but....
But the rest of it? Where's the guitar lines that I love so much, the exuberance that marked the earlier work? I hear more of the guest vocals and instruments than I do of the people whose names and photos grace the liner notes. It's like having a party and being crowded out by the guests who do all the talking. The songs just aren't there like they once were, which considering that they've had a musical career as long as I've been alive, shouldn't be that surprising, but I think I'll be passing on this one...

1 comment:

  1. Ain't my gig musically, but this proves that you really should do more reviews.