Words by Nigel Williamson
Get lost! It works for World Music Network
There has long been a suspicion that the world music we get to hear is only part of the story, a commercially marketable selection carefully filtered by self-interested gate-keepers – and that the best and most authentic stuff remains a well-kept secret. My own travels in world music suggest this is an over-romanticised view and that the cream usually rises: in reality there are not dozens of singers in Senegal as good as Youssou N’Dour or hundreds of Malian kora players as skilled as Toumani Diabaté. That said, there is certainly a lot of fantastic music that never gets exported and Lost in Mali is a valiant attempt to track it down.
Compiled by two industry professionals working in Bamako, the quality control is consistently high across these 13 diverse tracks. All are by artists never heard before outside Mali, from the rootsy, Fulani desert blues of Ali Baba Cissé on ‘Kaya’ and the rocking band from the Bamako school for the blind on ‘Farinya Manji’ to Barou Dramé’s earthy Wassoulou hunters’ song ‘Diagatoula’ and the righteous Afro-reggae of Kas 2 Kastro’s ‘Adjobawla’. Better still, this is apparently the first in a series of releases from far-flung musical outposts; World Music Network should be congratulated for such an innovative idea.