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Chamber Music

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 May 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal France
  • ASIN: B002MGNR4Q
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 229,921 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Review

This hypnotic masterpiece from the French label No Format is another fine example of the label's penchant for putting musicians from different musical backgrounds together in a studio and seeing what they come up with. Malian kora (harp-lute) player Ballake Sissoko and French cello player Vincent Segal got together in Salif Keita's studio Moffou in Bamako and made ten beautiful tracks for this release, which explores both the common ground shared by the two stringed instruments - as well their differences.

Most of the songs are pinned around traditional kora melodies and rhythms but Segal does well to make them his own. His cello has a husky tone that complements the clear notes of the kora, staking its claim to its own space even when the kora is setting the tune. On `Mako Mady' Segal leads the track boldly and darkly, while Sissoko follows with his characteristic lightness. On `Ma-Ma FC' the kora sets the racing melody while Segal peppers the chords with his unpredictable plucking and bowing. The deeply resonant title-track reminds us that the kora, as well as being an instrument to fill out dance bands like Salif Keita's lively ensemble or Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra, also stands on its own as an instrument that weaves a tale in its own right. Throughout the album, Sissoko creates a beautiful, calming space in which to enjoy the cello, and Segal adds texture. This is the kind of music that doesn't happen all that often. Don't miss out.

© Rose Skelton --Songlines magazine #70 - Top of the World album review

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Ballake Sissoko is a fantastic kora player who seems to delight in blending his music with other styles or instruments.
This music is very subtle. It's calm, complex and thoughtful. The cello of Vincent Segal fits wonderfully. It's never syrupy but often adds depth and tone not available to the kora.
The album is mainly just kora and cello weaving around one another. There is a smattering of n'goni, balafon and bolon on a few tracks. There is also one track with vocals 'Regret - A Kader Barry' with Awa Sangho. And what a voice! Wow I would really like to hear more. Awa doesn't just belt it out like some of the huge voiced singers of Mali, she uses her voice in a restrained and supple way to fit the complative music.
This is fusion at it's best!
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By Friarofdoom TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Jan. 2010
Format: Audio CD
It has been some nine years since Anouar Brahem's 'Astrakhan cafe' shook up the music industry and truly opened all our eyes to the possibilities of 'world music.' Since then there has been a whole raft of releases and while many have been good there has been a huge amount of overrated guff and few to touch Brahem's breathtaking beauty.
So it was with no little pleasure that I have stumbled across this underrated little beauty. Sissoko, (from Mali), plays what is called a kora, (no I'd never heard of one either so I looked it up), which is apparently a bottle gourd cut in half with a bridge and 21 strings no less. Sissoko can make this sound either like a harp or more plucked in a blues like staccato style. Segal, (from France), plays the double bass and he grounds the music slightly for European listeners with a classical touch and thus, presumably, the 'Chamber music' of the title.
The beauty here is the mixture of styles being offered to the listener. Many tracks have a Western edge with the kora sounding almost harplike with a shimmering beauty and crystalline fragility that on tracks like 'Oscarine' are just a delight. On tracks such as 'Histoire de Molly' & 'Mako Mady' the bass is forefront and a sombre downtempo feel leave the listener feeling reflective and not a little sad. Contrasts abound everywhere so that we are taken from uplifting to darker moods as well as the slightly potty with tracks like 'Ma Ma FC' which is great fun and sounds like Rolf Harris is playing the accompaniment.
The playing here is seamless and effortless. The two musicians weave around each other and compliment one another hugely. The recording quality is very high with each instrument well placed and a very high level of detail retrieved.
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The combination of instruments and musical traditions works surprisingly well. The two players complement each other beautifully and work harmoniously to create something nourishing and inspiring. By the nature of the instruments involved this is not loud music with strong climaxes but as my heading shows something to inspire contemplation and reflection. Music of a very high order indeed.
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By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album comes highly recommended in both 'Songlines' & 'Guardian' reviews, claiming 4-5 stars. Crossover or fusion can be tricky, as different instruments/styles are not always complementary, but here the combination of kora (the African lute/harp) and cello works very well.
Sissoko has a more rugged approach to kora than the great Toumani Diabate, but this is probably more in keeping with the earthy, mellow tones of Segal's cello. Unlike more familiar kora/guitar duos, both instruments take turns at providing underpinning rhythmns, and Segal both plucks and bows his cello, often providing a dancing counterpoint to Sissoko's dancing kora. Sometimes this is not wholly successful, for on a few occasions the kora struggles to support the 'weight' of cello when it leads (rather like a large centipede trying to carry an elephant!), but these passages are rare, and the collaboration is often a richly rewarding cascade of melodies and effects.

'Houdesti' settles into a driving riff from both intruments, so that when balafon (xylophone) provides a crystal shimmer of grace notes, the effect is entrancing. 'Histoire de Molly' is another immendiately accessible piece, with the joy of the music making (the album was recorded in 3 takes, without over-dubbing) really infectious. Awa Sanagho's richly emotive voice is an added bonus on 'Regret-a Kader Barry', on an album which reveals additional treasures on each playing. If you enjoy investigating new musical collaborations/combinations, this album is well worth exploring.
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This is one for those who liked the Toumani Diabate and Ali Farka Toure discs.

It inhabits a similar world, but with the obvious difference of Segal being a cellist rather than a guitarist.

I can't see anyone who liked "In the Heart of the Moon" or ""Ali and Toumani", let alone Toumani Diabate's "Mande Variations", being disappointed in this album.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this c.d. having read a highly enthusiastic review in the Guardian. I was not disappointed ! It is superb beautifully intricate and relaxing, in error I managed to order two copies, but I was so impressed, rather than return one I kept it to give as a present to an appreciative friend.
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