by Amadou & Mariam


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On 2012's Folila (which translates as "music" in Bambara), Mali's famed Amadou & Mariam, the husband-and-wife duo, effortlessly prove that "purist" alarm calls about melding popular and traditional musics across geographies because they dilute authenticity are not only inherently false, but their motivations are suspect. Amadou & Mariam originally cut twin albums -- same songs, tunings, and tempos -- one in New York with Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, Santigold, Theophilus London, members of TV on the Radio and Antibalas, the Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears, and Bertrand Cantat. The other was a Malian offering, cut in Bamako with master musicians, including Bassekou Kouyaté on ngoni, Zoumana Tereta on sokou, and Toumani Diabaté on kora, to name a few. A possibility presented itself when they took the completed sessions to producer Marc-Antoine Moreau in Paris. He was asked to try to bring the albums together. Moreau enlisted other producer/engineers -- Kennie Takahashi, Renaud Letang, Josh Grant, and Antoine Halet -- to assist. The end result is an organic-sounding masterpiece of cross-cultural collaboration, sung in three languages -- Bambara, French, and English (sometimes in the same song). Production magic aside, this project wouldn't have succeeded were it not for truly amazing songs (written by the duo) and inspired performances by all the musicians. "Dougou Badia" features crunchy guitar interplay between Amadou's instantly recognizable percussive style and Zinner's more rockist attack; it's fuel for a soaring duet between Mariam and Santigold. "Wily Kataso" features Amadou & Mariam with Kyp and Tunde from TV on the Radio on lead vocals; the meld of the two guitarists with Kouyaté's ngoni and the popping rhythm section is infectious. "Metemya" features Shears and Amadou's voices with the latter's knotty, raw guitar and Wurlitzer from Antibalas' Victor Axelrod amid layers of organic percussion. "Nebe Miri" features London rapping and singing in complement to Amadou's lead vocals, all drenched in a soulful meld of harmonies, three guitars, keyboards, and dundun drums. "C'est Pas Facile Pour les Aigles" is a rave-up that combines highlife, power pop, and Bo Diddley, and features Ebony Bones singing with Mariam. On "Sans Toi," Mali's traditional instruments such as sokou and kamale ngoni appear alongside guitar, piano, and the duo's hypnotic vocals. The haunting "Mogo" features bass clarinet, ngoni, djembe, dundun drums, and slide and rockist guitars and chants. "Chérie" is simply presented with Mariam above a Malian children's choir, with Diabaté's kora adding a carefree rural feel to close it. Forget prejudices about "world music"; Folila is great music. Period.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/10/2012
Label: Nonesuch
UPC: 0075597962307
catalogNumber: 530403
Rank: 216768

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Amadou & Mariam   Primary Artist
Sidiki Diabaté   Kora
Amp Fiddler   Keyboards
Victor Axelrod   Keyboards,Wurlitzer
Bertrand Cantat   Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals,Background Vocals,Doum-doum
Yao Dembele   Bass,Percussion
Bassekou Kouyate   Ngoni
Amadou Bagayoko   Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Mariam Doumbia   Vocals
Laurent Griffon   Bass
Stuart Bogie   Tenor Saxophone
Jake Shears   Vocals
Jordan McLean   Trumpet
Boubacar Dembele   Conga,Balafon,Djembe,Doum-doum
Antoine Halet   Acoustic Guitar
Manjul   Percussion
Jared Tankel   Baritone Saxophone
Santigold   Vocals
Ebony Bones   Vocals
Nick Zinner   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Theophilus London   Vocals
Yvo Abadi   Bass,Percussion,Drums
Kip Malone   Vocals
Abdallah Oumbadougou   Vocals
Ahmed Fofana   Bass,Flute,Keyboards
Idrissa Soumaro   Organ,Piano
Christophe Millot   Bass Clarinet
Baubacar Dembélé   Djembe
Tanti Kouaté & Her Choir   Choir, Chorus
Vieux Dembélé   Djembe
Tunde Adebamfe   Vocals
Tomani Diabate   Kora
Sanogo Foussn   Doum-doum

Technical Credits

Bertrand Cantat   Composer
Amadou Bagayoko   Composer
Mariam Doumbia   Composer
Jake Shears   Composer
Antoine Halet   Engineer,Collaboration
Marc Antoine Moreau   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Santigold   Composer
Ebony Bones   Composer
Theophilus London   Composer
Josh Grant   Engineer
Kip Malone   Composer
Abdallah Oumbadougou   Composer
Tunde Adebamfe   Composer

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