on 4 April 2013
This is one of three kora albums I ordered after attending a kora/harp performance by Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, where I fell in love with the kora. It is a stand-out album out of the three, with a more classical feel. I can see why it is named Mande Variations, with a nod to the Goldberg Variations - the intricate melodies and the purity of the notes make me think of Bach or Scarlatti (that sounds worthy of Pseuds Corner, but it is what I feel). The kora here is close in sound to the Indian Santoor, as other reviewers have pointed out, which is another instrument I love. Toumani Diabate is conceding nothing to popular expectations with this album, he is playing as inspiration comes through, and it does come through, flowing like a river. This is not a CD to do the washing-up to,or cuddle up with, it is music to lift you to another level of awareness.
on 8 November 2013
I came across this album after St Vincent's Annie Clark recommended it in an Amoeba video. In said video, she specifically pointed out the album and explained it's beauty and how Toumani was a Kora player from Mali. Naturally, intrigue takes you to Amazon to listen to the previews and you can easily understand why Clark is such a fan.
The talent of Toumani is loud and clear and as professional reviews have remarked, you have to allow yourself to believe that such talent is real. Each track has its own character, despite simply consisting of one instrument being played by one man throughout.
Enrichen your musical tastes with this album.
I was a complete newcomer to this man and his music until, when sat watching all the latest Arcade Fire soundalikes on Jools' 'Later' one night found myself completely transfixed by his single performance in the middle of it all. This CD has continued to captivate me with it's joyful tunes and resonances, captured perfectly by a most sympathetic engineer. Toumani makes his instrument 'sing' throughout in much the same way to my ear as Abdullah Ibrahim does with a piano, or Ornette Coleman with an alto sax. Profoundly beautiful music !
on 27 January 2011
Toumani Diabaté - The Mande Variations (World Circuit)
A master musician and the undoubted king of the kora (a 21 stringed harp unique to West Africa), Toumani Diabaté is one of a short list of musicians that should be checked out whatever your tastes run to. The Mande Variations is a melodic, instrumental and wholly accessible album with extremely broad appeal. It's a thoughtful, reflective collection, and a definite step back from previous releases with their emphasis of collaborations with Damon Albarn, Taj Mahal, etc. Toumani Diabaté has been nominated along with his Symmetric Orchestra in the Africa category of BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2008. 9/10.