It’s impossible to talk about this North African musician without mentioning the context from which his music is born. Samba Touré’s previous album ‘Albala’ (2013) was conceived and recorded during a time of crisis in his homeland of northern Mali. Insurgents ousted the president in a coup before a number of smaller Islamic factions imposed sharia law. The resulting album was a tense socio- political statement on the nature of war and crisis.
These new songs may still be born of conflict, but they’re brighter and lighter, imbued with a stunning resilience, galvanising the intrinsic joy and natural buoyancy of the country and its people. ‘Gandadiko’ is an album of myriad musical textures: hypnotic indigenous traditional melodies and folk blues married to early rock ‘n’ roll and pop. Touré’s guitar work is beguiling, engaged in an intricate dance with the soukou, a traditional violin.
The lyrics still reflect the problems of place: ‘Gandadiko’ itself translates from the native Songhai language as ‘Land of Drought’, and these sounds do feel parched, warm and giddy with heat. The land may not currently be fertile in terms of crops but it certainly is in artistry, as there is a wild eclecticism and experimentalism here that touches the soul.
Words: Anna Wilson
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