Music: Welcome to Mali

Amadou & Mariam


Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia embody eclecticism at its liveliest. Following 2005’s Dimanche à Bamako, recorded with Spanish collagist Manu Chao, this bracing album from the blind Malian couple gracefully blends everything from traditional instruments like kora and balafon to cellos and trombones, generating hypnotic, danceable layers of sound. Highlights include the synth-driven “Sabali,” produced by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), the sexy R&B of “Je Te Kiffe,” and “Masiteladi,” featuring Amadou & Mariam’s gospel-style vocal exchanges, spiky guitar riffs, and a deep-funk groove. One of the pleasures of Welcome to Mali is listening for the surprising ingredients the band adds to its endlessly flexible songs.

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  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.