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What I’m listening to this week: Amadou & Mariam

May 6, 2009

Welcome to Mali – 2008

This album was a very good recommendation from a friend with great taste in music.  You know how you have those friends who you love, but when they recommend something – a restaurant, a band, whatever – it never turns out good?  Well, knowing that this friend is always on the same wavelength as me (he’s never led me astray in choices of Mexican food), I decided to get Welcome to Mali immediately.

I really enjoy world music; quite some time ago, I got a Putumayo Presents: World Reggae album that I still listen to on a frequent basis.  Not being able to understand the lyrics doesn’t matter, because the musicians do such a great job of conveying themes through the tracks. And so when I popped in Welcome to Mali and the Damon Albarn produced “Sabali” began, I knew I would enjoy this too.

I feel woefully undereducated in African and World Music in general…I haven’t listened to all that much of it, nor have I researched it very much, and therefore feel unqualified to give much of a detailed review.  Pretty exciting, huh?  Three paragraphs in and I say I can’t give a good review.  But don’t worry, to make up for my shortcoming, I’ll link you to a great in-depth review of the album by Pitchfork.

Here’s what I do know…Welcome to Mali is a fascinating mix of sounds, intricately designed by thoroughly invested artists.  The first several songs: “Ce N’est Pas Bon”, “Magossa”, “Djama” and the K’Naan collaboration “Africa” are seriously impressive pieces of musical composition that are comparable or superior in production quality to any current pop music.   They’re rich and full in sound.  Amadou & Mariam have been around for decades now and only are recently starting to receive the proper recognition for their innovative sounds.  This is the type of music that other artists lift from in order to keep their own sounds fresh.  Too often, the innovators don’t get credit, and with the success of Welcome to Mali and the word of mouth it is receiving, hopefully Amadou & Mariam won’t suffer that injustice.

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