Sep 17, 2013

RhoDeo 1337 Roots

Hello, we still find ourselves in an environment that gave rise to the worlds monotheistic religions be that on the Arabian peninsula, here we stay in the Saharan/Sahel band stretching from the West-Atlantic coast to the highlands of Ethiopia in the east of the continent, a vast area where fresh water usally tends to come at a premium , where the sun is burning down during daytime and nighttime can be cold, where the moon is the sole light source apart from the warming campfires. Is it any surprise then that singing and making music together lifted the spirits of those gathering in these desolate landscapes. And the moon became their God.

Today more from Mali, after all it has one of the most intensely musical cultures in all Africa. Today's duo's early recordings in the 1980s and 1990s featured sparse arrangements of guitar and voice. Since the late 1990s they have produced music that mixes traditional Mali sound with rock guitars, Syrian violins, Cuban trumpets, Egyptian ney, Indian tablas and Dogon percussion. In combination these elements have been called "Afro-blues". .......N'joy

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A musical husband-and-wife duo that got its start in Mali, Amadou & Mariam met in 1975 at Mali's Bamako Institute for the Young Blind. Amadou (born Amadou Bagayoko in Bamako in October of 1954) began his musical career in 1968, and by 1974 had joined Les Ambassadeurs du Motel, a leading group (which counted Salif Keita as a member) in his home country. He wound up at the aforementioned institute after becoming blind as a teenager through a congenital cataract. His future wife, Mariam Doumbia (born in Bamako on April 15, 1958), was already at the institute (she became blind at the age of five), studying Braille as well as teaching classes in dance and music. Over time, the pair would have a huge influence on the artistic programs at the school, with Amadou directing a group of pupils and Mariam handling lead vocal duties for the school orchestra.

In 1980, the pair married and decided that they would make a good collaborative musical team. Over the next five years, they performed in their home country, and Amadou's solo career and work won him many accolades and awards. In 1985, the two toured out of country for the first time, with shows in Burkina Faso. In 1986, Amadou & Mariam, realizing that Mali and its distinct lack of recording resources would be a major hindrance to their career, opted to move to the neighboring Ivory Coast. There they began to release a series of cassettes (with help from the Nigerian producer Maikano) that would become the foundation of their later successes. By 1991, the pair had released four volumes of their work on cassette, and the buzz was great enough that in 1994, they were invited to Paris to perform and record new music there in.

Although the resulting sessions were never released, Amadou & Mariam kept on, and in 1998 they released their first CD album, Sou Ni Tile. From 1998 to 2002, a series of releases highlighting their early work (both together and solo) preceded their next album, Wati. In 2003, world music luminary Manu Chao began to work with the couple, and in 2004 Amadou & Mariam emerged from the studio with what was to be their landmark album, Dimance a Bamako. The success of the album led to tours, awards, and accolades from all over Europe and Africa.

In 2005, they released a live album and DVD, and in 2007 got involved with Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz fame) and his Africa Express project, which played the famous Glastonbury Festival. That same year, Amadou & Mariam performed at Bastille Day celebrations, as well as opening up for the American rock act Scissor Sisters in England.

In 2006, they recorded, together with Herbert Grönemeyer, the official anthem for the 2006 FIFA World Cup "Celebrate The Day" (German: "Zeit, dass sich was dreht"). The song topped the German charts in June 2006.

Released in 2008, Welcome to Mali featured guest appearances by K'Naan, Keziah Jones, -M-, Toumani Diabaté, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and Juan Rozoff, as well as production help from the aforementioned Albarn. The Magic Couple followed in 2009. The duo performed in Albarn's multi-artist Africa Express concerts, and, more recently, performed at the informal L’Afrik C’est Chic jam sessions with various special guests in London and New York.

In February 2011, Amadou & Mariam performed as one of the support acts for U2 during the Johannesburg and Cape Town legs of their U2 360 Tour. In July, they performed their first concerts in the dark, Eclipse, which were commissioned by the Manchester International Festival. They went on to stage these shows in London in November 2011, and in Paris in January 2012. They also became ambassadors for the World Food Program. They travelled to Haïti and offered a new song “Labendela” (Children are the future) as an anthem. Their early biography Away From The Light of Day was published in the US.

Together with longtime producer Marc-Antoine Moreau, they cut sessions for a new album in New York and Bamako, keeping the best tracks from each. The end result was Folila, issued in early 2012. The album featured guest appearances by Theophilus London, TV on the Radio, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and fellow countryman and ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate. A digital EP was released in January of that year, entitled Dougou Badia, for the album's first single.

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If you think Mali is all about the kora or the Super Rail Band, you need to take a listen to Amadou & Mariam, a blind married couple who take Malian music in a whole different direction. They keep to the bluesy, pentatonic root that's the heart of the desert sound of Mali, but bring it toward the West, even letting guitars howl here and there and funking things up with some lovely keyboard work. Amadou & Mariam sing both separately and together (indeed, they're at their strongest together, when the two voices can work off each other on songs like "Chauffeurs"), and they're both strong writers, using rhythm as much as melody for a sound that's remarkably down-home. "Sarama," for example, rocks wonderfully and hypnotically, and wouldn't sound out of place in a roadhouse, getting the crowd up and dancing. Perhaps it's because they don't sound especially African in their approach to music -- allowing the roots to be just one part of the whole -- that they haven't received the praise they deserve.

Amadou & Mariam - Wati (flac  364mb)

01 Walide 5:05
02 Ilbiwan 4:14
03 Les Temps Ont Changé 4:46
04 Baroni 4:55
05 Sarama 4:44
06 Dougou Massa 4:11
07 Chauffeurs 4:58
08 Mali Denou 4:32
09 Lahilala 5:03
10 Barika 3:41
11 Fana 4:35
12 Poulo 6:45

Amadou & Mariam - Wati  (ogg 134mb)

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Amadou & Mariam, have certainly paid their dues over the last 30 years, and it's about time they received their big break. Certainly given the excellent reviews in Europe, Dimanche a Bamako could be it, thanks to the production and participation by the elf prince of world music, Manu Chao. He brings a playful lightness to their soulful, bluesy Malian sound, letting in plenty of sunshine, and drawing in a sense of place through the ambience of traffic sounds and snippets of conversation. Chao is also obviously present on several tracks, such as "Senegal Fast Food," which offers a bouncy, reggae-styled rhythm so typical of Chao's own records. Lyrically, this is very much an album of love songs, postcards between the couple, but it never veers into maudlin sentiment. Yet there's also a political edge to it, such as with "La Realite." Even if you don't understand the words, however, the entire disc is an absolute aural joy, poppy enough to be exquisitely memorable, yet with layers of resonance underneath. One of the world music albums of 2005, it can hopefully find the kind of wide audience it surely deserves.

Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako (flac 384mb)

01 M'Bifé 2:11
02 M'Bifé Balafon 1:59
03 Coulibaly 3:18
04 La Réalité 3:33
05 Sénégal Fast Food 4:19
06 Artistiya 3:12
07 La Fête Au Village 4:11
08 Camions Sauvages 4:09
09 Beaux Dimanches 3:31
10 La Paix 4:19
11 Djanfa 4:14
12 Taxi Bamako :44
13 Politic Amagni 4:56
14 Gnidjougouya 3:45
15 M'Bifé Blues 5:21

Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako (ogg 146mb)

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Following the wildly successful Dimanche a Bamako in 2008, World Circuit decided to bring the blind Malian duo Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia to American shores. Welcome to Mali, issued here on Nonesuch, is their debut in the United Stares. Blur's Damon Albarn was enlisted to help out here -- and he does as a co-writer and producer on the album's opening track and first single "Sabali." It's a killer track, with waves of Malian blues and incantatory singing, especially from the plaintive voice of Mariam, which contrasts well with the grainy, more guttural inflections of Amadou. Albarn also adds waves of gentle but pronounced electronica and some fine basswork, and pushes Amadou's raw guitar into the forefront. The rest of the set -- whose only real flaw is how long it is -- is filed with infectious Malian folk music threaded through with European pop influences. And does it ever work. The best cuts, such as "Compagnon de la Vie" with its funky Hammond B-3, "Ce N'Est Pas Bon" with its driving guitar and marimbas, and the traditional "Djuru" are simply infectious with their rhythmic invention and meld of voices. There is even a love song in English here, "I Follow You," that works despite the corny lyrics. The title track -- also in English -- is pure funky goodness with its killer meld of Malian folk forms, perfusion, and European-style street funk. Ultimately, Welcome to Mali is an auspicious and welcome introduction to Amadou & Mariam, whose music has universal appeal and breaks new ground for Afro-pop worldwide.

Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali   (flac  445mb)

01 Sabali 3:16
02 Ce N'est Pas Bon 3:49
03 Magosa 3:43
04 Djama 3:15
05 Djuru 3:35
06 Je Te Kiffe 4:18
07 Masiteladi 3:56
08 Africa 3:48
09 Compagnon De La Vie 3:46
10 Unissons-Nous 4:16
11 Bozos 3:46
12 I Follow You 4:02
13 Welcome To Mali 3:20
14 Batoma 4:13
15 Sebeke / Boula (Hidden Track) 11:41

Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali  (ogg 155mb)

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Chris said...

great post, thanks a lot! I would even be happier would I find "1990-1995 Le Meilleur Des Années Maliennes" here. Do you have that too?

Rho said...

Hello Chris as it happens i do have that album, but i chose no to post it. I don't expect posting it in the near future, sorry.