Saturday, March 06, 2010

Oumou Sangaré

In the 1980s, in a country where the musical norm was ancient praise songs to rich and powerful members of the establishment, Sangaré began to forge her own distinctive style rooted in the Wassoulou music of southern Mali, working with influential arranger Amadou Ba Guindo. They replaced traditional instruments with the kamale ngoni – known as the young man's harp – the equivalent of the rock guitar for Malian youth. The resulting album, Moussoulou, was an immediate sensation; it sold over 200,000 copies in West Africa, making Sangaré a star and the disc an African pop classic.

The most remarkable part of the musical story is that Sangaré has as many male fans as women, and yet she highlights the difficulties facing women in a male-dominated society. She sings about taboo subjects such as polygamy, under-age forced marriage and women's role in society.

"I wouldn't call it feminist," she says. "I'm an artist first and foremost. I sing about injustice in any shape or form. Feminism is a very political word whereas what I am trying to do is art. But I'll speak out on any subject. I've always been interested in conveying a message but without necessarily beating people over the head with it. I have a weapon that does not shoot people down. Music is not about fighting. I come from a tradition where the role of the artist is about educating people."
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Friday, March 05, 2010

Les Tambours de Brazza

Les Tambours de Brazza, a spectacular Congolese percussion group was created in 1991 by drummer and songwriter Emile Biayenda. Les Tambours de Brazza merge the traditional Ngoma percussion, from the Bantu kingdoms, with guitar, bass and mbiras.

Angélique Kidjo: Oyo

Ziphezinhle Msimango reviews Angélique Kidjo's Oyo.
This will probably be a good listen for people who have not heard any of her previous work. Oyo is a great introduction to Kidjo's music and proves just how universal the language of music is. And it's about time that we began to really learn about what's going on on our own continent, and maybe concentrate less on knowing trying to learn all the lyrics to Jay-Z and Mariah Carey songs.
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Trilok Gurtu: Massical

Utpal Borpujari reviews Trilok Gurtu’s latest album "Massical"
Gurtu’s latest album ‘Massical’ reflects his thought process, which refuses to adhere to a particular genre of music — classical or mass music. Recorded in various studios in Italy, Germany and India, ‘Massical’ is what one can describe as a true international album,which involves participation by artists of various nationalities, playing compositions influenced by many cultures and instruments that come from various continents.
In a sense, this musician creates an autobiographical musical journey in this album, giving samples of various musical traditions that he has imbibed in his journey that started with the music by his mother and her contemporary classical giants. It then moved on to jazz and world music through a stint as a percussionist with RD Burman. “In the 55 minutes of ‘Massical’, I have put my entire journey from the age of five till now. I went through a lot of hardships, I had to come up with new ways of playing as people didn’t understand the way I play,” he says.
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Monday, March 01, 2010

Carlos Gardel - Tomo y obligo

Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté: Ali and Toumani

Ali & Toumani 

Sean Murphy reviews Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté's Ali and Toumani.
There are no dull or mediocre moments, but a few songs immediately stand out. The third track, "Be Mankan", is a tranquil waltz that features a subtle but striking kora performance. As Touré establishes the melody and reiterates it, Diabaté echoes every move, like a mono recording spliced with a stereo overdub. "Samba Geladio" is another irresistible groove that is quite reminiscent of "ASCO" (from 1999’s Niafunké).  Indeed, it is very like an acoustic version of that jam. "Sina Mory" is one of the few tracks with singing, and it was inspired by the suggestion that Touré recall the first song that inspired him to play guitar. Needless to say there is a full-circle element to these moving circumstances, with memory living - and kept alive - through music.

This is a deep, darkly beautiful work. The interplay between these two men is exceedingly rare in any type of music. Ali and Toumani is profound and powerful, with a soft accumulating force, like the individual drips of ice that form a river. This desert music is very much like the desert itself: it is expansive and immutable, and it will endure.
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