Posts Tagged ‘mali’

Album Review | Top Of The World | BKO Quintet – Bamako Today

Posted on January 14th, 2015 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Martin Sinnock

3796618Five guys making Malian music modern

The BKO Quintet consist of four Malians and one French musician; they play traditional Malian music with a modern twist. Uniquely they pair two traditional Malian instruments: the djelingoni and donsongoni – the guitar of the griots and the kora-like harp-lute of the Bamana hunters. While the roots of the music lie in folklore, there is an electric urban edge that firmly places it into similar psychedelic realms to Zani Diabaté’s Super Djata Band. The traditional instruments are backed by the djembé drum of master drummer Ibrahima Sarr and French percussionist Aymeric Krol, who plays a hybrid drum kit – a mixture of traditional and modern drums. What appears to be a small acoustic group creates a remarkably full sound and in Nfaly Diakité and Fassara Sacko they have two very powerful and emotive lead vocalists.

While the album stands alone as a great release, the accompanying DVD BKO on Air is a beautifully filmed diary-style documentary of the group as they travel through Mali during an official state of emergency: they are captured chatting on a radio broadcast in Bamako; rehearsing in the recording studio; and playing live in Mali and France. It’s a tremendous insight into how the group creates its music: how it takes influences from different Malian cultures, and adds contemporary references.

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Festival in the Desert returns

Posted on January 9th, 2015 in News, Recent posts by .


The legendary Festival in the Desert returns in the form of a Cultural Peace Caravan

Songlines Music Award winner Bassekou Kouyaté has released a new song and video about Mali’s legendary Festival in the Desert. The festival took place for a decade in the silky-soft sand dunes of Essakane, near Timbuktu, before moving to the outskirts of Timbuktu for security reasons in 2011. Since the Islamic incursion of 2012 the festival has been on hold.

Bassekou’s song, ‘Désert Nianafing’ (Longing for the Desert) – in French and various Malian languages – mentions the gorgeous sand of Essakane and praises the festival as a meeting place and something that can bring the people of Mali together. As well as Bassekou and his wife Amy Sacko, the film features musicians from the north of the country – Songhai singer Afel Bocoum, who used to work with Ali Farka Touré,and  Touareg guitarist and singer Ahmed ag Kaedi, leader of the band Amanar. Based in Kidal, Amanar won the Prix de la Revelation at the 2010 Festival in the Desert. When the Islamists arrived in Kidal in 2012 they came to Ahmed’s house and destroyed his instruments and said if he played again they’d kill him. He fled south to the capital Bamako.

The ban on music in northern Mali lasted 10 months, until French troops expelled the Islamists. But sadly the security situation is still precarious and most of the musicians have not returned. For now the Festival in the Desert takes the form of a Cultural Caravan for Peace, which starts at the Taragalte Festival on the northern edge of the Sahara in M’Hamid, Morocco (January 23-25). Bassekou is part of the Cultural Caravan, which includes a big concert in Bamako (Jan 31), a visit to the Festival on the Niger in Segou (February 4-8) and further performances in San and Mopti. I’ll be going to the Festival on the Niger and will be reporting on developments.

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Samba Touré to release new album in February 2015

Posted on December 23rd, 2014 in News, Recent posts by .

samba toure

Malian Songhai blues master Samba Touré announces the release of his second album, Gandadiko, out in February

Following Albala, released in 2013 on Glitterbeat Records, Malian guitarist, vocalist and composer Samba Touré has recently announced a new album, Gandadiko. In Songhai language Gandadiko means ‘Land of Drought’ or ‘Burning Land’. The album blends political lyrics and undertones with blues guitar playing and textures, offering a musical commentary to the human and political crisis afflicting his native country.

Gandadiko will be released on Glitterbeat Records on February 2 2015.

Listen to the track ‘Touri Idjé Bibi’ from Gandadiko:

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Tinariwen announce details of new EP

Posted on October 25th, 2014 in News, Recent posts by .


Tinariwen to release a five-track EP featuring previously unheard acoustic tracks recorded in the Joshua Tree desert

Available exclusively on vinyl and digitally, the Inside/Outside EP was recorded while they were working on Emmaar – released earlier this year.

Recorded in the Californian desert, Emmaar was one of Tinariwen’s darkest and most difficult albums of their career as the band were exiled from their troubled Malian homeland. Inside/Outside captures the moments of intimacy and solidarity in the shadows of the desert campfire, a sombre lament for a suffering homeland as the flames sawed in the wind and the embers paled and deepened.

Presented by Soundcrash, tickets to their Roundhouse performance on November 16 can be purchased hereInside/Outside EP is released on November 17 on Wedge Records.

Teaser video for Inside/Outside:

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