Album Review: Africa Express Presents: Maison des Jeunes by Various Artists
Excellent, Based on 3 Critics
The Guardian - 80 Based on rating 4/5
From concerts in Lagos and Kinshasa to that remarkable train trip round Britain last summer, Africa Express has set out both to promote co-operation between African and western musicians and to constantly surprise. This new album was recorded in just one week in October in a youth club in Bamako, where young Malian musicians worked with celebrity producers. The result is a fresh, varied set that mixes ancient and modern.
There are lots of ways to transport yourself to a place. It might be in the smells and sounds, the rhythm of a city street or soft sand grains between toes. Sometimes these are memories you make yourself, a place you flash back to at the whiff of warm rain. Other times it’s through the thoughtful, beautiful craft of others.
As big as the names may be, Damon Albarn has long been more than Blur and Gorillaz. He has been involved with music in Mali since his 2000 visit to the country with the international charity Oxfam; he soon recorded with Malian artists Afel Bocoum and Toumani Diabaté; and eventually he produced Amadou And Mariam’s 2010 album Welcome To Mali. In 2006 he had a major stake in launching Africa Express, a coming together of African and Western (predominantly British) artists in the name of music, peace and cross-cultural exchange.