Sahal message: Songhai Blues.

Author:Williams, Stephen
Position:Sound recording review


By Samba Toure

Glitterbeat Records

Cat: GBCD020

You would be forgiven if thought that you have heard the music on Gandadiko before, that it seems oddly familiar. For Gandadiko is the fourth solo album from the Malian singer, guitarist and composer Samba Toure and he first came to the attention of world audiences playing with the legendary Malian international star, Ali Farka Toure. Much of the feel of this album is reminiscent of Ali Farka Toures recorded output over the years.

But since the release of Samba Toures first recordings some 13 years ago with his debut album Foro, he has proved that he is his own man --slowly coming out of the shadow of the great Ali Farka Toure to present his own hypnotic guitar work, his own assured vocal style and his own profound lyrics.

Indeed, even before his work with Ali Farka Toure he had paid his dues with the group Farafina Lolo (African Star) and also performed with kora player Toumani Diabate.

Like Samba Toures previous album, Albala, recorded in the febrile atmosphere of Bamako in 2012, when many feared that Mali would fall under the control of a radical Islamist uprising that was sweeping south from the north of the country (which is where, incidentally, Samba Toures ancestral village is located), Gandadiko features a regular band member, Djime Sissoko, on the ngoni. The ngoni is a West African traditional hand-held stringed instrument.

But Gandadiko does represent a step in a new direction for Samba Toure. As Philippe Sanmiguel, Samba Toures producer for both Albala and Gandadiko, explains: "One thing I'm sure of is that we didn't want to do a second Albala. For Samba that album was maybe a little too sad and he wanted something closer to what he really is: hopeful.

"So the challenge was to have something as strong as Albala, but with more variety in the rhythms and moods and colours. I think the album sounds musically less dark, it's more danceable and up-tempo, but, sorry Samba, it's not entirely a joyful album. Tension, troubles and danger are still there in many of the songs.

"The drought in the north caused many economic problems and worsened the security situation. TV and internet news often talk about wars...

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