Mr. Bongo’s 'The Original Sound of Mali' is the perfect introduction to the vanguards and innovators of Mali’s distinct musical style.
Any given African country boasts a wealth of cultural exports and a rich, intricate history of music. So much so that to create a unified impression of one nation–as it’s been cultivated historically or as it stands within the contemporary scene–can be a seriously difficult undertaking, but UK reissue label Mr. Bongo does it with ease.
More than a few of the artists featured on this 16-track compilation never made a claim to fame, their legacies threatening to fade from the collective consciousness of Africa and beyond with each passing year. It’s what makes this record such an enthralling and deeply satisfying listen. It’s the sound of history unveiling itself.
Compilation curators Vik Sohonie and David Buttle also include a few more established names on The Original Sound of Mali. Malian vocalist Salif Keita, who joined Les Ambassadeurs just as they changed their name to Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux, was known just as much for his albinism as he was for his powerful vocal performances. On the ten-minute selection “Mandjou,” Keita howls desperately over a cooly arranged proto-psych rock jam.
A defining aspect of the original Mali sound is the electric guitar. Coinciding with Mali’s independence from France in 1962, the guitar was a transitionary pop tool that ushered in rock and the blues out of traditional folk forms. The sound became synonymous with a political and spiritual renaissance among Mali’s native population, embodying the excitement of change.
A1 –Idrissa Soumaoro et L´Eclipse de L´Ija Nissodia 7:40
A2 –Rail Band Mouodilo 3:55
A3 –Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako M’Bouram-Mousso 5:38
B1 –Super Tentemba Jazz Mangan 6:12
B2 –Sory Bamba Yayoroba 5:42
B3 –Super Djata Band Worodara 4:26
C1 –Zani Diabaté et Le Super Djata Band Fadingna Kouma 5:09
C2 –Salif Keita, Ambassadeurs International Mandjou 10:14
C3 –Alou Fané* & Daouda Sangaré Komagni Bèla 2:43
D1 –Super Djata Band de Bamako Mali Ni Woula 8:16
D2 –Idrissa Soumaoro et L'Eclipse de L'lja Fama Allah 8:57