Damon Albarn & Friends - Mali Music / 2LP
This LP was constructed in layers--after Albarn had edited down his 40 hours of raw material, he created collages with new melodies and beats and then sent his tapes back to Mali, where extra vocals and instrumental work were added. We thus get music that actually feels layered: a typical track will start with a simple groove on kora or ngoni, then it will acquire a voice, then some electronic effects, and will finally be enveloped in a seductive miasma of local atmosphere. Apart from some nifty Malian balafon and string work, there's nothing here of instrumental note (Albarn's instrument is a battered melodica), but that doesn't matter, because in this game the final effect is the thing. Disregard Albarn's pretentious guff about this representing the "Africanization of Western music" (where does the boy imagine jazz came from?) but do regard this LP as a healthy omen.
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