Release Date: Sep 16, 2013
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): West African, African Traditions, Malian Music, African Folk
Alafia, Sidi Touré's third recording for Thrill Jockey, is as different from its predecessors as they are from one another. While his debut Sahel Folk was an informal offering cut at his sister's house with friends; Koïma, a much more lively offering, was done in a proper studio. Touré recorded Alafia in Bamako and in Nantes, France. The latter location was necessary due to dangerous conditions in Mali during 2012 and into 2013.The longstanding Touareg rebellion for recognition became an insurrection.
Malian music has certainly received a commendable amount of exposure and interest from prominent Western mouthpieces in the new millennium. Everyone from respected popular musicians like Damon Albarn to perennial hunk and sometime dragon-slayer Matthew McConaughey have expressed their interest in music from Mali in different ways. There are plenty of good reasons for this—compelling rhythms, melodic vocals, a nice balance between complexity and repetition, and, particularly in the songhaï blues genre that we are mainly concerned with here, elements in song structure that are familiar to people who are accustomed to blues-based Western popular music.
Sidi Touré hails from Gao, a city in the northwestern sector of Mali, which has changed hands three times since March 2012. First Tuareg rebels booted out the Malian government; then Ansar Dine, the Islamist Tuareg movement, ejected the MNLA, a less ideologically unified confederation of Tuareg resistance movements; and then the French took possession in January 2013. This means, amongst other things, that his hometown has been controlled by people willing to lop body parts off of people who play music.