Vieux Farka Touré et Khruangbin – Ali

A serene and hypnotic re-imagining...

Vieux Farka Touré and Khruangbin have collaborated on new album ‘Ali’. The trippy Texan trio are no strangers to fusing a myriad of genres seamlessly and flaunting musical convention in lieu of creating their own brand of nebulous lo-fi psychedelic funk.

Their latest collaboration comes in the shape of Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré for a semi-improvised tribute to Touré’s late father Ali Farka Touré. 

Ali, the Grammy award-winning pioneering and much-loved Malian guitarist was widely regarded as the ‘Godfather of the desert blues’, and was often referred to as both ‘The Hendrix of the Sahara’ and the ‘African John Lee Hooker’. However, Touré who introduced the world to the sounds of African desert blues was a legend and influential musician in his own right.

Together, Vieux and Khruangbin have recreated his work in order to share and enlighten Ali’s breadth of work and musical legacy to a new audience. From the first listen, it’s clear it’s not about having too much of a linear and draconian approach to recreate Ali’s work, Vieux has given Khruangbin artistic licence to organically create an semi-improvised and relaxed interpretation of Touré’s music whilst maintaining the original’s integrity.

The songs have been reinterpreted and elevated by Khruangbin’s sonic retexturising and takes the listener through a technicoloured journey of Ali’s most-loved classics and B-sides from his extensive catalogue. Thematically, ‘Ali’ is about creation and love, creating something new, loving what you create as well as honouring Vieux’s love for his father’s music and for his father himself. 

‘Diarabi’ is a sumptuous and funk-laden track that plays to the original’s strengths, but is elevated by its pronounced driving drums. Lead single ‘Savanne’ fuses Malian grooves, blues, dub and funk for a spell-binding dose of sonic alchemy that mesmerises, especially with Touré’s gravelly vocals.

‘Alakarra’; a magnificently-layered track that soars thanks to Laura Lee’s trance-inducing bass-lines is a triumph and is yet another stellar example of how an epic jam session resulted in the fusion of the two sonic styles of Khruangbin and Touré whilst bringing the beauty of Malian music to a new audience.

From the electrifying ‘Mahine Me’ to the heady and expansive ‘Tongo Barra’ which is sung entirely in the Malian Songhai dialect, each of the eight tracks is an impressive and enlightening interpretation of Ali’s original compositions.

7/10

Words: Emma Harrison

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