Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Music - Part 54 - Fela Kuti




Fela Kuti
The Best Of The Black President 2
Knitting Factory Records / Kalakuta Sunrise (KFR1029)
4 March 2013


If you’re unfamiliar with Fela Kuti then you really need to familiarise yourself, and, 2013 is the perfect time to start with over 50 albums being re-released between now and September.

Fela was more than a singer-songwriter, and more than a multi-instrumentalist, he was a freedom fighter and spearheaded political change.  He was incredibly outspoken on the subjects of African corruption in Government and of injustice for his people who whilst fighting, was beaten and scarred over two hundred times, but, never stopped his battle for what he believed.  He is a legend.

On 2 August 1997, Fela died at the age of 58, and an estimated one million people turned up for his funeral.  The musical Fela!, was nominated for 11 Tony’s and a documentary about his life, directed by Oscar winner Alex Gibney, is planned for release this year.

So what of his music?  A unique mix of traditional African rhythms mixed with jazz, funk and psychedelia underpinned by a frantic drumbeat is what you get.  Tracks that continue endlessly (some of Fela’s tracks were known to last for a full side of an album!) with drums, horns and guitar riffs prevalent throughout.   Unfortunately, the length of the tracks limited Kuti’s popularity outside of Africa. 

Tracks steam ahead form the word go with two saxophones, two bassists and two guitars often common presenting a musical style which was heavy influenced by modern day funk and hip-hop – with the man himself often playing keyboards, trumpet, drums, sax and guitar (presumably not at the same time!) as well as taking the vocal in his native Nigerian.


Best Of The Black President 2 is a double cd containing just twelve tracks (six on each disc), but, the choices for the compilation are superb.  Opening with the near forty year old Everything Scatter which has become one of the classic Afrobeat tunes and straight into Expensive Shit, the album is completely relentless.  Yellow Fever describes the practice of Nigerian women and skin bleaching, and, there’s a near seventeen minute version of the true classic Sorrow Tears and Blood.  There’s also representation of his later career with Undergound System (Part 2) recorded just five years before his death.

Unless you’re a true die-hard, 50 albums may be a bit much to invest in, but, this collection is a superb insight into the music of a man which is either worshipped by some or unknown by others. 

Do yourself a favour, buy this album, and, listen to one of music true geniuses.

9.5/10

Find out more about Fela Kuti here.  

Music - Part 53 - Mazes




Mazes
Ores & Minerals
FatCat Records (CD/LP/DL)
Out Now

As my Louder Than War bio says – “Everything deserves one listen, but, not necessarily a second”.  This album almost fell into that category.  It’s not that I dislike it as such, it’s just that there are a few very fundamental flaws that make it an ‘Ok’ album.

The Mazes sound is pretty original, and there are some good tunes on this album, but, it suffers from some very poor production.  It’s a shame, as the band have done it themselves.  Several of the songs sound like live demo versions – if the group intended this, then congratulations to them on succeeding.  If they didn’t, then they need to maybe consider getting themselves a producer.  The second thing that becomes apparent is that Mazes sometimes don’t know when a track could lose its appeal.  Opener, Bodies, is case in point.  It has a nice catchy feel and a great little melody, though the chorus is sometimes difficult to pick out, but, the problem comes in the length at almost seven minutes.  To be honest, it’s maybe three minutes too much and it becomes a little pretentious, which is a shame.

I’m aware that I may come across as having a real jab at this album, but, bear with me please.  The wonderfully titled Dan Higgs Particle has a line that makes me squirm – “Please I wanna go home, I will not cry, I will not moan”, a Country-style guitar and a decent enough track, but, it sounds flat.  A track in desperate needs of mixing, but, something slightly amiss.  Significant Bullet is barely a minute long, an instrumental that only serves to hold its predecessor into Ores & Minerals with an initial drumbeat not dissimilar to Enola Gay.  Some addictive guitar work and a good hook.  I played this album without looking at the track listing and it makes sense that this is the title track.  A cohesive piece, very catchy and one that grows and grows - moments of Visage (Fade To Grey) perhaps but a second guitar solo that again is a little too long.  All in all, a good track and probably one of the album highlights.

The opening to Sucker Punched whilst similar to Slight Return by The Bluenotes begins yet another pretty good pop song with some good vocals and a great melody, which like Bodies, you’ll find yourself singing over and over.  This is potentially one of those tracks you could look book at in a few years and regale how good it was.
Delancey Essex has a folksy feel, it’s not overcomplicated and the length of the song it just right.  The Rocky movie bassline goes through Bite which again is nice enough but doesn’t seem to move on, again it’s a little bit too much and could do with cropping by a minute or so. 

I was reminded of several acts whilst listening to the album – The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Lennon and even Rush who seemed to have an influential presence on Jaki, not only with a Geddy Lee esque vocal but also with some guitars akin to the 2112 album.  Unfortunately, I was never a big fan of Rush but there’s something about this track that’s pretty endearing.  Leominster is like a piano outtake, but has a really original and interesting recording of a female voice at the end which lifts the track again. 

The album ends with probably the best two tracks on the album – Skulking and Slice.  Brilliant guitar solo on the former and cracking guitar sound towards the end.  I really enjoyed Skulking, and to be honest, it’s probably why I gave the album more listening.  Slice has a line that made me smile – “The USA isn’t great, it’s ok”.  Almost waiting for a chorus to kick in, it’s a perfect album closer.


In short, Mazes show significant promise.  They write some very addictive tunes, and, the album has the potential to be very  good.  For me, there’s that little something missing somewhere that makes it feel as though it’s still incomplete.  Sorry lads, but the production really does let this down, but, I’m sticking with you because I think there’s something very special coming.

Songs 8/10 – Production 6/10.

You can stream the full album here
Their website is here .  You can follow them on Twitter here or do the Facebook thingy here.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Playground


I took the Squids to the local park today.  It was absolutely freezing, but, they burnt off a bit of excess energy.

There's a relatively new playground there, loads of exciting looking stuff that maybe a 44 year old shouldn't be seen playing on (they look much more fun than the ones I played on as a kid!) - I took photos instead.

These, I think,  are the best of the bunch.






























Factory?



I pass these gates every day on the way to work.  I have no idea what they are or where they go, but, my gut feel is that it's the entrance to a long gone factory.  

No-one can get access (unless you have the key I suppose), so it has an air of mystery too.  Anyway, I took a few photos to quench my curiosity.






Friday, 22 February 2013

Music - Part 52 - Inch Time




Inch-time
Myth & Impermanence
Out Now


Having just reviewed the new Four Tet album, 0181, it was interesting that next up should be something with which it could sit shoulder to shoulder. 

The new album from Stefan Panczak is a quite lovely little affair, with influences from the worlds of jazz (The Necks), post-rock (Tortoise) and Arabesque dub (Demdike Stare).  The follow up to 2011’s The Floating World, Myth & Impermanence is not only a marvellous album title but also a collection of eleven instrumentals of impressive quality – the Australian born producer has an ear for an addictive tune.

As a long-time fan of Depeche Mode, I found album opener Time Of The Fire similar sounding to one of the Basildon boys’ remixes.  Early sounds reminiscent of Barrel Of A Gun and a lovely clean drumsound, deep bass and interesting effects.  Some early spoken voice and baritone sounds fading in and out.  The driving percussion is soon joined by a simple guitar sound creating a very effective track and adding a new dimension. A xylophone sounds emerges and adds a magical quality – almost imaginable in a Buddhist temple.  Incredibly entertaining and interesting.


Slowing down slightly with some atmospheric sounds and a jazz percussion courtesy of Karl Penney, The Sun Myth breezes along with an improvised and almost random feel.  Creating a sense of complete weightlessness, another guest musician, Alex Bonney adds to the experimental vibe with a striking trumpet solo or two.  The minimal feel continues with Woods a track that has ‘dub me’ written all over it.  Tinkling keyboards, nice effects and ‘whirrs’ held together by the bass of Olie Brice, one of the UK’s finest jazz musicians.

Almost ambient, Stapedius creates soundscapes and tones which are incredibly subtle.  Very slight noises, very relaxing – think massage rather than dance.  Slightly taxing but so pleasant to listen to that I’d drifted away slightly and was halfway through track 5, Night Falls.  Strumming guitars over ebbing water, again I’m thinking eastern temples through the sounds of rustling wind and cymbals.  The occasional stroke of a drum and blow of brass, the track doesn’t really ‘go’ anywhere, but, in a way, that’s its beauty.

Black Mountain is slightly more on the electronic side, again a little like the Mode with a wind instrument of sorts and spoken samples dying down to an eerie silence.  Home is a track that’s gone before you know it – completely mesmerising – you begin to realise that on second listen, this album is actually quite a beautiful piece of work.  In some ways, not ideal music to listen to in the car due to the calming nature of the sounds, The Devil In Any Key and One After Another exquisite in their simpleness, and, addictive in a similar way to Transmission 13’s Kaleidoscopio album from last year.

At just over a minute, Impermanence is one of those tracks that I often don’t see the point in.  It starts, it ends straight away.  Maybe it’s just me, but, album closer, Decay soon takes over. A space-age sound – echoes, atmospheric with less jazz but more synth.  A slight percussion almost akin to dripping water fading out and leaving the album in a truly inspiring way.

Panczak describes the album as one to “get lost in, to be played after-hours” and I couldn’t agree more.  An album, which for me on second listen, really ‘clicked’ and became something rather nice.

8/10


Follow Stefan on his blog here or on Twitter here.  If you do the Facebook thang, you can do it here.



Music - Part 51 - Four Tet





I listened to this in the bath and I really enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the album as well.

2013 could well be the year of ‘doing a Bowie’ as artists make new releases with little or very short notice.  Putney’s very own Kieran Hebden, has unleashed new album , 0181, on the world with very little notice, and, has uploaded to Soundcloud for a free download.

It truth, it’s not really a new album, it doesn’t even have a tracklisting.  It’s more a collection of old tracks and bits ‘n’ pieces, which have been connected an almost continuous stream of loveliness.

The music was produced prior to the wonderful Rounds album, and, is in a similar vein.  Starting very slowly and with a distinct chill-out feel, the ‘individual’ pieces are short but cohesive enough to keep you interested, slowly rising to more substantial percussion before fading off again from whence it came.  It manages to keep alive by the sheer change of style and sound, every little click and bleep is a joy with its slight rough edges adding to the overall charm.

 So many instrumental albums fall into the trap of over pretentiousness and ridiculously long tracks, but, 0181 cleverly avoids falling into that trap.  At times, you find yourself drifting off, at others your feet start uncontrollably tapping and you find yourself wanting to jig across the floor.

There is, you would imagine, a danger of an album of snippets and even more snippets being disjointed, but, you couldn’t be further from the truth.  There has clearly been a lot of thought and care into the structure of 0181, loops and beats are expertly synchronised and the whole effect is an album which, is possibly more worthy of being a free download (it will shortly be released on vinyl) though possibly not a ‘full’ release. 

Think somewhere between Chemical Brothers (Come With Us) and Death In Vegas (Trans-Love Energies) and you won’t be far wrong.  Good company indeed.

Listen to, or, download 0181 here.  I’m off for another bath.


Four Tet’s website is here or you can follow on Twitter here.



Monday, 18 February 2013

Music - Part 50 - Dan Friel




In 1987, Equinox recorded their one and only cassette, Hitting The B(l)ack Wall.  Considered to be ahead of their time, they distorted sounds and paired them with ‘pop’ tendencies in something that had the potential to be really groundbreaking.  Chances are that you never heard of them outside of Lancashire.  Over twenty five years later, Dan Friel has done something very similar, but, to be fair much much better.   The coincidences don’t end there, with both artists making their recordings on crude and bastardised equipment fed through and disembowelled by simple technology.   The results  were similar, though Friel has really mastered it.

Hailing from Brooklyn, Dan has taken a truckload of various sounds and forced them through a 12 year old home computer on a three-legged desk.  A Yamaha keyboard from 1984 was his first instrument and is also crammed in here.  So, what’s all the fuss about?  Why am I in a fit of euphoria over this album?  I’ll tell you why.  Because, it oozes originality, it oozes power and it oozes aggression. 

Starting the epic near-thirteen-minute Ulysses, is a harmless enough single high pitched tone.  Give it a couple of seconds before a crashing distorted drum sound enters with feedback and a truly thumping bassline, then, unexpectedly comes a sublime pop hook played over this mish-mash of ragged cacophony.  Thumping along like the Giant pursuing Jack down the beanstalk with Jack screaming for his life.  It’s a superb fusion of chaos meets sublime pop, and, it really works.  Hints of 80s arcadia and arpeggios.  Imagine Portion Control’s Filthy White Guy entangled with Jesus Jones’ Liquidizer, reincarnated for the disturbed, and you won’t be far wrong.


Apparently, Friel likes the odd stroll through his hometown, and, the pace of the tracks allegedly matches the pace of the walk.  Along his walks he records sounds, anything it would seem – kids basketball, a strike at Manhattan utilities company Consolidated Edison, Japanese pinball machines, and adds them to his projects.

There are several shorter tracks ranging from 30 seconds to a minute and a half, and these serve to weave the album together, three of them are titled Intermission (1, 2 and 3), and, they give a break from the colossus wall of war that ensues throughout the collection, giving the listener a minute respite before powering on again.

The distorted, but somehow controlled bassline is an ever constant but Dan should be congratulated on his ability to intermingle with a more accessible overtone.  There’s something mildly recognisable about Valedictorian and if you listen to Red River Rock by Johnny & The Hurricanes, you’ll probably catch my drift.

After the mammoth opening track, the remainder are limited to the three minute mark and it’s a masterstroke in track listing.  It’s exactly what is required after the exhausting entrance.  Velocipede is an almost Prog-Psychedelic trip along the lines of Ozric Tentacles’ Kick Muck and you can almost imagine playing Centipede in the amusement arcades of the late 80s whilst you listen to it (if you’re not old enough to remember this, I send my condolences!)

Scavengers screeches along like a train preparing for its inevitable derail and crashes at the end.  This is music that could make your ears bleed and must be an incredible experience live.  The second intermission calms proceedings before Thumper comes and thumps along.  It’s the distorted, ragged, electro-punk backgrounds that keep this album uniquely unique.  The frenetic pulse screwing up in your head.  Glorious.

The simple little pop melodies continue into Landslide.   Capturing the rawness of punk and mish-mashing with simplicity and a relentless drumbeat to compliment.  Blurring sounds and images in your head.

This album is like no other, and, could very well have been called Louder Than War!  It is, in my opinion, one of the finest things I have heard in many a year.  Very early contender for Album Of The Year.

Forget Bruce Springsteen.  This, boy and girls, is the future of rock ‘n’ roll.


Music - Part 49 - The Creole Choir Of Cuba




Rarely does an album grip you from quite literally the first note.  From the opening note of Preludio, you’re hooked.  The haunting lone voice grips you and holds you, and won’t go.  It’s nothing short of beautiful.

This album contains songs which from generations of Haitian emigrants, passed down and given a lifting shot of life.  Exiled once from Africa to Haiti, then to Cuba, the members of the Choir are descended from former freed Haitian slaves.  Songs of freedom and hope with melodies that will lift your soul. 

Santiman is the follow-up to the widely acclaimed Tande-La released in 2010.  Produced by John Metcalfe (Morrissey, Blur, John Cale) and recorded at Peter Grabriels Real World Studios, the arrangements are enhanced by several musicians who were coincidentally recording at the same time for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrations.  The songs, handed down for generations are sung in both Spanish and Haitian Creole (a French/English/West African mix) and tell tales of survival and poverty, but also the celebration of life.

There are songs that you might recognise the melody to – Camina Como Chencha being one – a Guaracha, which is a song with a humorous theme.  A typically Cuban sounding song about a girl with ‘gambadas’ (translating as bandy legs!).  I defy you to not want to get up and dance, I defy you to even keep still!

The intro to Llegada bears a quite remarkable resemblance to Soul Limbo by Booker T & The MG’s, a far cry from the theme of the song - poverty stricken life on an island full of drought.  It does however have a great wall of sound comprising of vocals from both sexes, and, a quite amazing female vocal the likes of which I have never heard before.  Rising and rising to a quite superb crescendo.

Despite having a very short moment that sounds like Paul McCartney’s The Frog Song, Fey Oh Di Nou transcends into another magical song.  The sort of song that you feel completely at rest with, one where all the problems of the World disappear for three and a half minutes.  Voices blend together over a simple backing of slow percussion and nothing else.  Possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear in your life.


Fidel Romero Miranda has a voice that sounds like it’s been around the block a few times –weathered and torn, but repaired again, a jazz piano thrown in courtesy of guest musician Tom Cawley adds another dimension and direction to the album.

Several songs on the album are almost entirely vocal, adding a haunting, ethereal feel to the tracks, Soufle Van (Mangaje) is another such song.  Ending with a lone female voice, you really need a few seconds to reflect and catch your breath before Pale Pale starts.  It’s over ten minutes of paced pleasure.  Maybe more what you’d expect from Cuban music, it’s dance beat hides the true message of a protest song based on folklore over previous military atrocities.

Written by Choir member, Teresita Romero Miranda (she also sings one of the solo’s), Pou Ki Ayiti Kriye starts slowly but soon reaches a more recognisable tempo describing the suffering of Haitian people.  The pain of love is brought with the emotional Juramento where the whole Choir lend their voices.

This album is one not to be missed.  It will enthral you, and, it will take you on a musical journey that you rarely ever travel on.  To quote the Choir Director, Emilia Diaz Chavez – “Santiman gives us great hope and joy.......it comes from our hearts”. 

Superb.


Friday, 8 February 2013

Resting Place



Standing in  the shadow of her glory
The wind encapsulates me
The rain batters my form
Her long back,  her rounded head -
  Like a whale surfacing
Am I to be her Jonah
  swallowed whole?
Or, am I the child of the monster
  rising from green fields,  purple heather,  brown forests?
She is:
The end of my rainbow
My pot of gold
(even in this rain)

Thine is the glory
She is my drug
Injecting me with new life
Revitalise

We are as one
My true love
Heaven is this place

Music - Part 48 - Julian Cope




Apparently it’s just over 25 years since St Julian was released.  25 years!  Time flies etc....  I saw him at the Manchester International on the tour to promote the album with support group Crazyhead (who weren’t too popular).  Cope had ‘that’ microphone stand.  He was bloody brilliant.

To this day, I adore the Warne Out Mix of Trampolene.  Still one of my favourite all-time tracks.  I always used to play it to give myself a bit of a boost of confidence – before a job interview, prior to meeting my future wife for the first time, that sort of thing.  I love/loved the fact that he had released his debut album World Shut Your Mouth three years earlier without the whisper of a track of the same name, then in 1987, he does and has his biggest solo hit single.

St Julian was his first album away from Mercury, where Cope had released his first two solo albums and had had good success with The Teardrop Explodes, ironic that after leaving the label, he should then release an album more in line with his former group.  This new album was rockier than his previous solo efforts, some say influenced by his admiration of Alice Cooper, but the inclusion of Ramones producer Ed Stasium and the raw power given to The The’s Infected by Warne Livesey didn’t harm the overall sound where Cope cut his hair and donned leather from head to foot, creating distaste amongst some quarters with his symbolic crucifixion pose on the album cover. 

The album opens with Trampolene.  A marvellous slab of how-to-write-a-hit-single genius.  It almost worked, hauling itself into the Top 40 singles and nearly, so nearly, making it up into the next ten of the countdown.  It’s a catchy, infectious song with ripping guitars and the Livesey drum sound so powerful, so tight, so fantastic.  “I can’t believe you’re trampling me” is whizzing round my head as I type. It will be for several hours more. 

                       

Little time to rest before Shot Down ensues.  More well structured jangly guitar pop, more clever lyrics, more pulsing drums.  Bouncing and racing along like a pack of fearsome Cope cubs, stopping for nothing other than to deliver “all shot down from Heaven above” and to indulge us in a teasing guitar solo ready to rip through the track but somehow resisting the urge.

“Da-do-da-do-do”.  Eve’s Volcano. Can music get any catchier?  It’s a crime that songs like this never received the commercial acclaim that they richly deserved and were quite obviously aimed at.  Some Halloweeny keyboards in the background courtesy of Double DeHarrison (aka JC himself).  Pure Rock ‘n’ Roll in the form of Spacehopper – a track that has its roots in the 70s from writing sessions with Mr Ian McCulloch.  Roaring along, its one of the three tracks produced by Stasium.  Three and a half minutes of let-your-hair-down madness.

Planet Ride comes complete with chorus sung by a female chorus.  Uplifting?  Yes.  It had the ability, though I don’t know why, to make me grin before leading into the biggie, World Shut Your Mouth here.  It still sounds fresh. It has everything.  Even the verses are catchy!  If it’s some time since you’ve heard it, then dig it back out and I challenge you to prove me wrong.  The only thing that baffles me is why it only reached number 19 in the charts – it should  have been right up there, but, that’s life.  Yes, Cope’s solo career will probably always be measured by this song, but it is, without any doubt, one of the finest pop songs ever written.

The title track is also a lesson in perfect songwriting, listen to this with stereo headphones on and pick out every cymbal stroke, every horn, every slight tap of a drum, without which the track would lose some of its completeness.  It could have been another single – had its predecessors been more successful, it may well have been.

For me, the albums highlight comes in the form of Pulsar.  Ripping up from the opening vocal – “I’ve been away too long and I’m wondering why”.  Played live this was awesome.  Pure and unadulterated energy and aggression. Stopping midway for a piano and voice segue, before firing all cylinders again – watch that audience bounce!

                      

Originally a Teardrop Explodes track. Screaming Secrets sees the light of day for the first time.  It never made it onto an album and it’s difficult to see why – maybe testament to the quality of previous recordings that it didn’t appear anywhere, or, maybe sitting and waiting for that brilliant album to come along where it could sit shoulder to shoulder with its equals?  I digress.

Closing with eight minutes of loveliness in the form of A Crack In The Clouds, St Julian is a reminder of how easily we can forget albums which border on the classic.  I’ll admit it had gone off my radar, but it won’t again.  The final track brings you down to relax mode in a scape of mountains and rivers, and, thunder and lightning.  It builds and builds to its climax, fading out and leading you to play the album once more.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the deluxe version of the album has another 14 tracks sequenced by the man himself.  – b-sides, remixes and live tracks containing some absolute gems.  The Warne Out Mix of Trampolene is here as are I’ve Got Levitation and Umpteenth Unnatural Blues and remixes of World Shut Your Mouth and Eve’s Volcano.  Also here is the quite fantastic Disaster – a grand old song if I ever heard one, surely worthy of more than being tucked away on a b-side.

St Julian is undoubtedly one of the finest albums of the 80s, and, if you’d forgotten about it, it’s well worth making yourself remember.



Monday, 4 February 2013

Music - Part 47 - Bassekou Kouyate




It’s fair to say I’d never heard of Bassekou Kouyate before listening to this album, and, sometimes that can be a huge advantage.  No preconceptions as to how it should sound, no thoughts of it not being as good as previous releases, just a purely honest and independent view.  What I have found with Jama ko is a collection of songs that left me very very impressed.

From the Press Release information, he sounds a pretty sought after chap.  Nominated for a Grammy with his last album, I Speak Fula, which called for peace in his homeland of Mali, he’s recently played with Damon Albarn, John Paul Jones and Paul McCartney. 

For those who don’t know (I do now), a ngoni is a large lute.  Bassekou was taught to play it by his father, Moustapha who himself was an accomplished musician though he never made any recordings, believing that God would punish him if recordings were played after his death.  His mother, Yakare, was a necessity at weddings in the Segu area – a well-known singer, ceremonies were known to be cancelled if she wasn’t available to sing at them!  She too was not allowed to record.  The musical legacy continues in the Kouyate family with all seven of Bassekou’s brothers and sisters being musicians, Bassekou himself shocked his father when he displayed a talent for playing tunes on the ngoni within minutes picking the instrument up.  The guy clearly has a gift like no other, and, listening to the album only endorses that.

You know when you have a diverse album when the album could almost be a compilation, the styles are so different – ‘traditional’ African, gospel, blues, even 60s psychedelia influences.


Opener and title track, Jama Ko (which means ‘big gathering of people’), gives us an instant taste of what a ngoni passed through a wah pedal and cranked up amp sounds like.  Almost Spanish in influence to begin with and moving into a delightful Summery Eastern feel with a great hook in the chorus.  A delightful tune.  Sinaly continues in a similar vein, really getting you into the feel and sound of the ngoni very early on.  The vocals of lead singer Amy Sacko are stunning throughout the album. 

Dankou has a male vocal courtesy of Zoumana Tereta, an almost freestyle, intuitive feel, and dare I say, in a Hendrix style.  Superb work from Kouyate leading the other three ngoni players on the album.  There’s an incredibly frenetic percussion steaming away throughout Ne Me Fatigue Pas which only endorses the English translation – Don’t wear me out.  Again, some stunning string work on several solo’s over a sometimes skiffle esque beat.  Amazing stuff.

Guest singer on Kele Magni, Khaira Arby has a quite fantastic voice in her stirring call for peace.  That is all.

One of the many highlights of the album comes in the form of the John Lee Hooker tinged, Mali Koori (Cotton Song).  A superb slab of authentic blues with a Malian slant.  Again with the vocals of Tereta, this track is seemingly faultless.  The melody will simply not leave you. 

Jama Ko was recorded in the capital of Mali, Bamako, with the inclusion of Bassekou’s Sons Madou and Moustafa.  It’s a call for peace and unity and tolerance through crisis and the emotion of the album is strongly felt on Wagadou.  A quite untouchable vocal which sends shivers down every inch of your spine.  Haunting and powerful over a very sparse backing allows the track to soar.

After a short stay on your imaginary beach basking in the sun and taking in the easy listening of Segu Jajiri comes a song in both French and English and featuring the guest vocals of Taj Mahal together with Kouyate.  A touch of Howlin’ Wolf thrown in for exceedingly good measure on another bluesy track. 

And all too soon it’s over.  You almost instinctively know that Moustafa (sung by Moustafa) is a touching song.  It just sounds sumptuous and is a tribute to his parents for the life they have given him.  Time to hit the replay button on your cd player.

 This is a wonderous album of quite brilliant quality.  If you’re becoming bored with your usual fix of music, then I strongly recommend you listen to this.  An early contender for inclusion in any Best of 2013 listings.