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  • Friday, June 19, 2015
    Songlines Top 25 Mali Albums Features Several World Circuit / Nonesuch Records Releases

    Songlines magazine has just posted its list of the Top 25 Mali Albums, originally from the July 2013 issue of the magazine, and included on the list are several artists and albums familiar to readers of the Nonesuch Journal: Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabaté, Amadou & Mariam, Rokia Traoré, Oumou Sangare, and Fatoumata Diawara.

    "Mali remains a wellspring of great music and culture," says Songlines. "After much deliberation, we are proud to present the top 25 albums to come from Mali, reminding us that there is an endless amount to celebrate in its music."

    Coming in at No. 15 is the World Circuit / Nonesuch release Fatou, the debut album from Fatoumata Diawara, who was born in the Ivory Coast of Malian parents and was raised in Bamako. "There are shades of her mentor Oumou Sangare, for whom she sang backing vocals, and of her close friend Rokia Traoré. But Fatoumata has a style and feel all her own," say the Songlines writers. "The less-is-more production enhances the sparse, acoustic-guitar-driven arrangements with a subtle touch of Fender Rhodes piano here, a plinking ngoni there. The sultry grace with which she stretches out over the Wassoulou-flavoured 'Kele' insinuates its way into your heart."

    And speaking of Oumou Sangare, her 2004 World Circuit / Nonesuch album, Oumou, is on the list at No. 9. The eight new tracks on the two-disc collection "rank among the best she has ever made," says Songlines, including "an atmospheric tour de force" and another with "a mesmerising vocal." These songs "proved that West Africa’s number one diva was very much back in business."

    Next on the list, at No. 8, is the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure's final recording, Savane, released on World Circuit / Nonesuch Records in 2006. "As deep as the unearthly recordings of Robert Johnson or early Muddy Waters, this swansong from Africa’s greatest guitarist was steeped in the purity of the blues. Yet it was also an album of wonderfully contrasting sounds and textures," says Songlines. "Saving the best until last, Ali left us Savane as a fitting finale to his magisterial career."

    Kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté, whose duets album with Toure is still to come on the list, appears on his own at No. 6 with the 2008 World Circuit / Nonesuch release The Mandé Variations, his first solo album in 20 years. "If the title was intended to echo Bach’s Goldberg Variations, it was a well-chosen analogy, for a baroque grace and elegance fills these extended instrumental compositions for solo kora," says Songlines. "The effect is meditative, and yet there is a subtle rhythmic complexity, too, which underpins the music’s intricate, dignified counterpoint ... That a solo instrument recorded without overdubs can sound so lush and layered remains miraculous."

    Rokia Traoré's second album on Nonesuch Records, Tchamantché, from 2009, is No. 4 on the list. It "confirmed her as Africa’s boldest and most experimental diva," Songlines asserts. "Boasting a trembling introspection, masterful understatement and graceful arrangements unlike almost anything else in Malian music," the album's unique instrumentation creates "an elegantly baroque and sculpted setting, hauntingly spare and with the scrape of every string heard in pin-dropping clarity. Yet for all the instrumental deftness, Tchamantché is primarily a showcase for Rokia’s quietly compelling voice, an instrument that on stage can wail with the best but here is used with a more personal and nuanced sensibility."

    Singer Mariam Doumbia and guitarist/vocalist Amadou Bagayoko, the blind Malian couple better known as Amadou & Mariam, are at No. 3 on the list with their 2005 Nonesuch Records debut, Dimanche à Bamako , released outside North America on Because. "[W]hat made Dimanche à Bamako a career highlight was the presence of the mercurial Manu Chao as producer. The result was the duo’s most diverse and joyous album, a thrilling mix of Amadou’s deep blues guitar, Mariam’s wailing vocals and Chao’s unique global Gypsy touches," says Songlines. "But this was no takeover bid—Dimanche à Bamako is very much an Amadou & Mariam record, which Chao merely enhanced by sprinkling over it a little of his technicolor magic dust."

    And finally, topping the Songlines list of Top 25 Mali Albums at No. 1 is the second and last album pairing Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabaté, Ali and Toumani, the released on World Circuit / Nonesuch Records in 2010. "It should come as little surprise that our list is topped by the sublime collaboration between the two most significant names in Malian music over the past quarter of a century," Songlines exclaims. "The diversity and intensity of the musical fantasia the two maestros fashioned together is breathtaking ... As a summit meeting between West Africa’s two mightiest musical masters, it’s a collaboration of virtuosic perfection and understanding, a master class in which the two friends spur, inspire and encourage each other to a creative pinnacle of monumental elevation."

    You can read much more in the complete list at songlines.co.uk.

    To pick up a copy of any of these albums, head to iTunes, and, in the United States, the Nonesuch Store.

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Songlines Top 25 Mali Albums Features Several World Circuit / Nonesuch Records Releases

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on June 19, 2015 - 9:00am
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Friday, June 19, 2015 - 13:00
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Songlines magazine has posted its list of the Top 25 Mali Albums, originally from the July 2013 issue of the magazine, and included are several artists and albums familiar to readers of the Nonesuch Journal: Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabaté, Amadou & Mariam, Rokia Traoré, Oumou Sangare, and Fatoumata Diawara. "Mali remains a wellspring of great music and culture," says Songlines. "After much deliberation, we are proud to present the top 25 albums to come from Mali, reminding us that there is an endless amount to celebrate in its music."

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Songlines magazine has just posted its list of the Top 25 Mali Albums, originally from the July 2013 issue of the magazine, and included on the list are several artists and albums familiar to readers of the Nonesuch Journal: Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabaté, Amadou & Mariam, Rokia Traoré, Oumou Sangare, and Fatoumata Diawara.

"Mali remains a wellspring of great music and culture," says Songlines. "After much deliberation, we are proud to present the top 25 albums to come from Mali, reminding us that there is an endless amount to celebrate in its music."

Coming in at No. 15 is the World Circuit / Nonesuch release Fatou, the debut album from Fatoumata Diawara, who was born in the Ivory Coast of Malian parents and was raised in Bamako. "There are shades of her mentor Oumou Sangare, for whom she sang backing vocals, and of her close friend Rokia Traoré. But Fatoumata has a style and feel all her own," say the Songlines writers. "The less-is-more production enhances the sparse, acoustic-guitar-driven arrangements with a subtle touch of Fender Rhodes piano here, a plinking ngoni there. The sultry grace with which she stretches out over the Wassoulou-flavoured 'Kele' insinuates its way into your heart."

And speaking of Oumou Sangare, her 2004 World Circuit / Nonesuch album, Oumou, is on the list at No. 9. The eight new tracks on the two-disc collection "rank among the best she has ever made," says Songlines, including "an atmospheric tour de force" and another with "a mesmerising vocal." These songs "proved that West Africa’s number one diva was very much back in business."

Next on the list, at No. 8, is the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure's final recording, Savane, released on World Circuit / Nonesuch Records in 2006. "As deep as the unearthly recordings of Robert Johnson or early Muddy Waters, this swansong from Africa’s greatest guitarist was steeped in the purity of the blues. Yet it was also an album of wonderfully contrasting sounds and textures," says Songlines. "Saving the best until last, Ali left us Savane as a fitting finale to his magisterial career."

Kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté, whose duets album with Toure is still to come on the list, appears on his own at No. 6 with the 2008 World Circuit / Nonesuch release The Mandé Variations, his first solo album in 20 years. "If the title was intended to echo Bach’s Goldberg Variations, it was a well-chosen analogy, for a baroque grace and elegance fills these extended instrumental compositions for solo kora," says Songlines. "The effect is meditative, and yet there is a subtle rhythmic complexity, too, which underpins the music’s intricate, dignified counterpoint ... That a solo instrument recorded without overdubs can sound so lush and layered remains miraculous."

Rokia Traoré's second album on Nonesuch Records, Tchamantché, from 2009, is No. 4 on the list. It "confirmed her as Africa’s boldest and most experimental diva," Songlines asserts. "Boasting a trembling introspection, masterful understatement and graceful arrangements unlike almost anything else in Malian music," the album's unique instrumentation creates "an elegantly baroque and sculpted setting, hauntingly spare and with the scrape of every string heard in pin-dropping clarity. Yet for all the instrumental deftness, Tchamantché is primarily a showcase for Rokia’s quietly compelling voice, an instrument that on stage can wail with the best but here is used with a more personal and nuanced sensibility."

Singer Mariam Doumbia and guitarist/vocalist Amadou Bagayoko, the blind Malian couple better known as Amadou & Mariam, are at No. 3 on the list with their 2005 Nonesuch Records debut, Dimanche à Bamako , released outside North America on Because. "[W]hat made Dimanche à Bamako a career highlight was the presence of the mercurial Manu Chao as producer. The result was the duo’s most diverse and joyous album, a thrilling mix of Amadou’s deep blues guitar, Mariam’s wailing vocals and Chao’s unique global Gypsy touches," says Songlines. "But this was no takeover bid—Dimanche à Bamako is very much an Amadou & Mariam record, which Chao merely enhanced by sprinkling over it a little of his technicolor magic dust."

And finally, topping the Songlines list of Top 25 Mali Albums at No. 1 is the second and last album pairing Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabaté, Ali and Toumani, the released on World Circuit / Nonesuch Records in 2010. "It should come as little surprise that our list is topped by the sublime collaboration between the two most significant names in Malian music over the past quarter of a century," Songlines exclaims. "The diversity and intensity of the musical fantasia the two maestros fashioned together is breathtaking ... As a summit meeting between West Africa’s two mightiest musical masters, it’s a collaboration of virtuosic perfection and understanding, a master class in which the two friends spur, inspire and encourage each other to a creative pinnacle of monumental elevation."

You can read much more in the complete list at songlines.co.uk.

To pick up a copy of any of these albums, head to iTunes, and, in the United States, the Nonesuch Store.

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Songlines Top 25 Mali Albums

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