Niafunke

This is the first album in five years from Tour?, the Malian
bluesman who’d rather be farming than making Grammy-winning albums
like his last one, Talking Timbuktu, recorded with Ry Cooder. To
get the reclusive guitarist on tape, the producers had to bring a
sound truck to Tour?, recording this CD on a mobile unit in his
far-flung village of Niafunke.

The setting is a big part of the story here, and it captures,
hauntingly so, the elemental spirit of chants and trance from which
the music comes. I was immediately transported to ‘deep Mali,’ as
he calls his neighborhood on the banks of the Niger, to a casual
jam at Ali’s place.

Tour?’s elliptical groove is more raw and rooted at home, and
when he’s joined by waves of call-and-response voices and exotic
single-string violins, it’s easier than ever to hear the links
between rural African song forms and the blues. Tour?’s village
doesn’t have electricity. As you can hear on this hypnotic CD, they
make their own.

FromEscape(July, 1999.)
Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues) from Box 462255, Escondido, CA
92046.

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