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Friday, February 6, 2009

Ali Farka Toure or the Earth Beat Music

I'm in awesome listening of a record I didn't listen for a while... it's late Ali Farka Toure "Savane" on World Circuit record label: I simply felt the need to share the joy this music gives to me.
AFT unfortunately died a couple of years ago and I'm missing him a lot... I purchased while in London in early '90s his first european issue and it was a revelation: his crude, yet exotic guitar playing, reminding echoes of African landscapes blewed my younger mind away.
This monument of African music and heritage, an hero for Malian people and all Sub-Sahara's Region: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina-Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger - he made his first european appearance at a Sofia - Bulgaria folk Festival in 1968... after this una-tantum gig he wisely returned to his farm and secluded life near Niafunke village, emerging only for Radio Mali broadcasting and a bunch of African tours, down to Guinea and Burkina-Faso. Then, he sent some tapes of his music to Paris and... things changed quickly: his name spreaded among ethnic-music lovers...
AFT's playing and singing in Peul, Sonrai and Tamascheq's languages are a masterpiece, as well, and a love act to Sahara's and Niger's people... weird sounds and enchanting melodies, a blend of guitar, kora (imagine an instrument built by the musician himself... very cool: luthier and musician together... what an heavenly marriage... what an idea!) and 'ngoni, the MOST sincere singing from these ancient voices is the gift you'll obtain listening to "Savane"... also worth a careful listening the fantastic, Grammy-winning "Talking Timbuktu" w. Ry Cooder, Gatemouth Brown, John Patitucci, Jim Keltner... one of my Desert Island records ever!
From MUZE:
"Track listing:
1. Bonde
2. Soukora
3. Gomni
4. Sega
5. Amandrai
6. Lasidan
7. Keito
8. Banga
9. Ai Du
10. Diaraby

Playing time: 60 min.
Producer: Ry Cooder
Distributor: Ryko Distribution
Recording type: Studio
Recording mode: Stereo
SPAR Code: n/a

Album notes
Personnel: Ali Farka Toure (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, 6-string banjo, njarka, percussion), Ry Cooder (acoustic & electric guitars, electric slide guitar, electric mando-guitar, cumbus, mbira, marimba, tamboura, mandolin, bass, samples); Oumar Toure (vocals, congas, bongos); Hamma Sankare (vocals, calabash); Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (electric guitar, viola); John Patitucci (acoustic bass, bass); Jim Keltner (drums).
Recorded at Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California in September, 1993. Includes liner notes by Nick Gold.
TALKING TIMBUKTU won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.
By the time your average listeners get around to the slow, elemental backbeat of "Ai Du," all of their preconceptions about chickens and eggs, roots and fruits or bluesmen and griots have been blurred and obscured by the enchanting music that makes up TALKING TIMBUKTU.
It's all in there: the droning traditional timbres of Mali in Ali Farka Toure's guitar; the deep, mysterious incantations of the Mississippi delta blues in Ry Cooder's slide work; the soulful backwoods moan of "Gatemouth" Brown's viola; the percolating rhythms of Hamma Sankare and Oumar Toure; and the earthy resonant dance of drummer Jim Keltner and bassist John Patitucci. "Ai Du" sums out to something not unlike the blues or West African music...but it's something else again--like some pan-ethnic folk music for the 21st century.
That's because TALKING TIMBUKTU is an epic cross-cultural super-session that captures the deepest spirit of music and transports it across ethnic and stylistic boundaries without demeaning the gift-giver or the gift. Ali Farka Toure's blissful melodic lines do not adhere to traditional blues form, but rather suggest a kind of pre-blues music of African origins. On a tune such as "Soukora" Toure pours out his heart to his lover, as he and Cooder playfully circle each other with bell-like chords and ornaments that sound like a curtain of electric pearls, while Toure's more vivid attack on "Amandral" echoes phrases evocative of John Lee Hooker. In truth, TALKING TIMBUKTU resists easy description. It is exquisite, mysterious music."
... indeed, all the above and more...
When I listen to last track on my old, trusty vinyl copy of this gem, "Diaraby" I can't resist and tears appear in my eyes... it's so haunting, beautiful... of a VERY complex yet soooo easy beauty... it's ancient and modern music... echoes of Bob Marley, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and some drone-music of the past, yet sounds always new, intriguing... it's our beloved music spring creating a space in time bubble capable of let you smell dust and dry winds from Sahara...
... almost forgetting: "Savane" and "Talking Timbuktu" are WONDERFULLY recorded and gorgeously played... don't expect some sort of "primitiveness", recorded with lesser gears: it's Earth Beat of purest breed.
Buy them... it's a friend hint!

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