Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Habib Koite & Bamada|
Genres: World Music, Pop
After a six year absence from the recording studio, Malian guitarist Habib Koité and his band Bamada return with a stunning new album. Afriki finds the group in fine form, and features an appealing set of songs that reflec... more »
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After a six year absence from the recording studio, Malian guitarist Habib Koité and his band Bamada return with a stunning new album. Afriki finds the group in fine form, and features an appealing set of songs that reflect Habib's unique approach to the diverse styles of Malian music.
"His reputation as a guitar player has become almost mythical, combining rock and classical techniques with Malian tunings that make the guitar sound like a kora or ngonni." The New York Times
"the biggest pop star of the West African nation of Mali." Rolling Stone
"... in his case, the unfamiliarity of the language was no problem, largely because of his communicative manner - kneeling down at the stage edge to interact with the crowd - dancing in unison with his musicians - made such a clear - nonverbal connection with his listeners." The Los Angeles Times
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Laidback and enjoyable.
unplug and listen | 10/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Koité is without a doubt one of Mali's biggest international artists and is one of Africa's biggest-selling acts having sold more than 250,000 albums around the globe.
In the US, one of his most successful territories, he has collaborated with Bonnie Raitt, appeared on the Dave Letterman show, has been called "Mali's biggest pop star" by Rolling Stone, been featured in a 2-page photo spread in Vanity Fair and has received rave reviews in People, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times ("His reputation as a guitar player has become almost mythical"). And how about this for a mainstream achievement: two tracks from his first album Muso Ko were included with Microsoft Windows Vista, meaning that his music will be installed on many millions of PCs.
It's been six years since his beautuful last release Baro.
Listening to his new allbum Afriki is like having an old friend coming to visit, full of great tales and smiles.
Only a few minutes into this music and you almost forget that it hasn't always been part of your record collection. It brims with all those comforting things that set the experimental griot Koité apart from most of his contemporaries.
The husky voice, catchy choruses, trickling guitar patterns and clever jigsaw of Mali's myriad musical traditions - all are there. Even the quality of the mix reflects his earlier works. Koité was one of the first artists to break the mould of the thunder-voiced song and ancient repertoire associated with the Mande griots, Mali's traditional praise singers.
He preferred to search the length and breadth of his home country, collecting ideas and inspiration from a huge variety of traditional sounds. Others have since followed in his footsteps, yet Koité's musical universe remains entirely his own.
The main theme looks at developing Africa's strengths and getting Africans themselves to see that what they have can be worth a lot and is worth championing. The familiar range of Malian styles is adapted on the track "Afriki" by some nifty Pee Wee Ellis horn arrangements.
On "Afriki", almost every corner of the country is nodded to in the intricate guitar and percussion patterns that carry all of his songs. There are touches of desert blues, of the griot's ngoni (lute), and even an eerie chorus of hunters' antelope horns that softly caresses the clever arrangement of "Nta Dima" and lifts it to a rare level of musical beauty.
He has also a gloriously easy-going vocal style.
This set is a dash too laidback, though. As ever, he mixes influences from across Mali, but all are given the same gently sophisticated treatment.
The introduction of different instrumentation brings some variety, but when the string arrangements appear on "N'teri", it seems as if he is aiming for the easy-listening mass market.
All in all, it's a very enjoyable listening experience.
"Afriki" fails to eclipse or even match his former musical w
Boo Lynn Walsh | New York city | 11/04/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately, Habib Koité's long awaited CD "Afriki" fails to eclipse or even match his former musical works. In addition to the historically great musicians composing the original Bamada band, 25 more guest artists were recruited for what one hoped would be a 6 years-in-the-making, epic World Music trend setter and instead delivered this diminutive 11 track offering of 3 and 4 minutes cuts.
It's not that Bamada's superb musicianship falters, it simply flows from one limpid song to another without any noticeable peaks or valleys, which creates a limpid pool rather than the raging rivers of energy found on their previous releases. There's not a single, catchy, sing-a-long, commercial dance track on it, which insures it will never become a DJ's pick or top any 100 most popular lists. In other words, the marabou's blessing and traditionally powerful ju ju, and gris gris are missing from the magic charms. Linear notes explain that most of the tunes were written while Habib kept up his grueling business and tours, and that perhaps explains why most of the lyrics read like homesick laments for Africa, a musical testimony to a malaise of the heart and soul.
One the upside, the studio production is superb. The CD design is interesting and informative. The guitar licks, various rhythms and musical instrumentation and talent are rich and authentic. As a big fan of Habib and Bamada, I still highly recommend their live shows and former releases; "Ma Ya" and/or "Baro".
A welcome contribution to international music collections.
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first studio album released by "Africa's musical ambassador" Habib Koite in six years, Afriki is a soothing album embracing traditional rhythms and themes. The Malian Bambara language lyrics touch upon themes vital to Africa today, including the value of facing challenges head-on at home. In Koite's own words, "People here in Africa are willing to risk death trying to leave for Europe or the USA, but they are not willing to take the risk staying to develop something here in Africa." The powerful, positive messages are carried through acoustic sound, including some traditional instruments as polyphonic hunter's horns, the balafon (wooden xylophone), n'goni (Malian lute), and Habib's well-known voice and guitar. A welcome contribution to international music collections."