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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Mali Music!, 25 April 2002
By 
Laloux (ARRAS France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
Do you need a change? Are you in the mood for something new and exotic? Well then, how does a trip to Mali sound? Good? Then let yourself be carried away by Mali Music, an album conceived and produced by Damon Albarn (leader of Blur and Gorillaz) and the musicians he befriended during his stay in Mali in July 2000. Let them take you along on their adventures, to the very places where Damon recorded over 80 hours of traditional music, accompanied at times by Damon's melodica and humming. This musical project (initiated by the Oxfam charity organization) represents the merging of two different musical landscapes. Damon edited and worked on the recordings in his London studio, enriching them with dubbing and electronic effects. The result is an eclectic album, a total of sixteen pieces marrying Malian and Western music, which takes the listener on a musical journey. A ride on the Niger River, a visit of Bamako's Institut National des Arts, and stops at the Kela and Griot Villages are all on the itinerary. You will be surprised and happy to discover how delightfully Toumani Diabaté's kora (a 21-cord harp), the njurka (a traditional violin), the balafon, the ngoni and the Griots' singing mesh with the piano, keyboards, guitars and electronic music. The 40-page booklet accompanying the CD is equally superb.
Do you wish to become acquainted to Malian music without getting bogged down by it? Opt for Mali Music then, the first release of Honest Jon's Records, a label founded by Damon Albarn and his friends from the Portobello Road record shop. Have a good trip!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired collaboration, 13 May 2002
By 
Tk Childs "Tom C" (Oxford United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
There's something for everyone here. You don't have to love world music to appreciate such songs as Sunset Coming On, whilst tracks like The Diembe and Niger, which mix dub reggae with laid back Malian vibes, prove irresistable. On top of these are a wealth of African sounds that will convert those unsure about what such music sounds like. Damon and friends are to be congratulated. They've managed to produce what will be an essential soundtrack of the summer for all those who buy this CD.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to put a big grin on your face., 25 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
Thoes of you who like the way the first Manu Chao record makes you feel will like this. It mixes and matches new and old with great delight and at the same time effortlessly blends different worlds. They obviously had so much FUN making this record and you can hear it in every note. Damon's melodica may not be perfect, but would sound wrong somehow if it was. (Great to hear melodica being used in a starring role again too - Augustus Pablo, you are much missed...) This is a record to chill out to whilst wearing a big smile on your face. Life affirming!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 8/10. '4AM At Toumani's', 10 May 2007
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
Albarn's Mali Music project is an overlooked album of beautiful mood and texture that barely belongs to the hideous 'category' of world music. This is very much a subjectivised, western account of African moods and musicianship, taken largely from muddled field recordings and mixed down in London. Mostly the range of instrumentation drifts in and out of the mix unhurried in a manner that has more in common with sample-based music and electronica than world music. Indeed it starts disappointingly with the track Spoons that seems to bare no superficial resemblance to African music at all, more like the slick trip hop of Faithless's quieter moments. But listen carefully and you will hear all manner of found sound bubbling under the surface; the nocturnal vibes pervade, evidently recorded over night-long Mali jam sessions and banter. Track titles like '4AM At Toumani's', 'Kela Village' and 'Bamako City' give testament to the approach, which seems aimed at capturing the mood of a place rather than provide a platform for specific artists. Perhaps this is not for the purists of whom Michael Nyman referred to as the 'World Music Police'.

There are moments of unbearable lovliness throughout, that evoke a sense of Albarn's heartbreaking nostalgia for his experience, especially on songs fronted by him (Sunset Coming On). Absolutely a subjectivised and romanticised account, it drifts and swells in a heady brew that uses African music and atmosphere as texture. 'Makelekele' splices together its range of instrumentation into a kind of demented African techno, while 'Le Relax' and 'The Djembe' are spectral, humid dub. Most tracks have irresistable hooks and grooves given added insistence by a variety of singers, as well as Albarn's melodica, which underpins some of the, er, melodies. The fragmented loops on 'Tennessee Hotel' recall mellower moments on Eno and Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the voices, guitar refrains and found sound slipping hypnotically in and out of the mix. 'Niger', arguably one of the album's more untampered tracks, revolves around some simple guitar loops so beautiful that it makes you wonder what other African music you may be missing in your ignorance. Its not all light and groovy though, the slightly funereal closer 'Les Ecrocs' seems to have the darkness of the African night pulsing in its very blood, while the ghostly 'Institut National Des Arts' sends shivers up your spine.

On the whole though, its not an album of individual songs but of atmosphere and place. A journey, not a set of specific peformances or statements. Albarn, for all his political activity, doesn't resort to any po-faced hectoring about African poverty in the music or sleeve notes. Unnecessary really since some of the proceeds of this record go to Oxfam projects in the region. If I have one (minor) complaint, its that the cut of 'Sunset Coming On' here is inferior to the track's live performance available to view on YouTube, which is extended by a mind-blowing three minute jam (check it out). If you like this you will also enjoy the crossover fusion of Crammed label's 20 Ways to Float Through Walls.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars when world crossover works, 20 Dec 2006
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
There are many attempts at world crossover music that fail but luckily this is one of those rare records that works on all counts. The mix is perfect & complements each with respect & real love of what good music is all about. It is the soul of africa presented in a beautiful way. Tracks like "spoons" and "the Djembe" are just songs that move you deep in your heart. Whilst "les escrocs" will just transport you to all that is missing in your life. World music at it's very very best. If you like "world" music this should be in your top 10, though I find it hard to fit it into the catagory of "world music"...what is that?
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Multi-talented Mali music!, 30 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
"Now for my next trick" Damon Albarn turns an Oxfam-sponsored visit to Mali into an electronic, bongo, steel drum and singing festival, unhampered and honest from the helping hands of Toumani Diabate and Afel Bocum. It could so easily have been turned into an anthemicly patronising piece of cultural tourism but instead remains just as much made by Mali musicians as it does Damon Alburn. With only a melodica Albarn proves he is one of the greatest working artists in Britain. The album has been in the works for over 2 years and speaks for itself, largely defecating over the sludgy and superficially dull moments from his Gorillaz album. Whilst certain press blindly continue to fill pages with self-advertisements, aimless lists and promotional give-aways, albums like these slip past relatively unnoticed leaving tender songs such as 'Sunset coming on' and 'Les escrocs' to graciously leave us feeling warm, kind and ready to use certain press for toilet paper.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a rare crossover album, 15 Feb 2013
By 
J. Harlow "book-film crossover guy" (Los Angeles, California United States) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
most African musicians lose something when they try to be too Western, as with the latest Amadou and Mariam, although obviously they have the right to try: they often come across as mixed as Paul SImon's Graceland which is both catchy and clumsy. But this works by letting the African elements stand alone or fade into the Blurrish sound.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best., 12 Jan 2012
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
I got this aas a present and kept forgetting to order, then two days before I was ment to give it, I ordered. It said it would arrive within 7-12 days and cost a bit more then the others, but came within 2 days and was totally worth all of the money. I would recommend this to everybody! Came first class aswell- Bonus.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creative, 24 May 2008
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
Being a post punk indie kid this album is very different to anything else I own.

However if you like laid back Damon Albarn & proper tunes this album is very good. Personally I think better than any of the Gorillaz material.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real good treat, 4 Jun 2003
This review is from: Mali Music (Audio CD)
amongst the rubbish tweenie pop music of 2002 this little gem sticks out, the hypnotic tunes are really refreshing, if only all modern music was as good as this, it's how music should be.
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Mali Music
Mali Music by Afel Bocoum (Audio CD - 2002)
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