Monday, March 01, 2010

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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