Release Date: May 24, 2011
Record label: Six Degrees
Genre(s): Jazz, New Age, Pop/Rock, International, World Fusion, West African, African Traditions, Malian Music, African Folk, Guitar Virtuoso, Desert Blues, Ethnic Fusion
The son of the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré inherited his dad's dazzlingly fluid phrasing but clearly also digs the fiery African blues rock of bands like Tinariwen. Here, he joins American peers for a crossover set that slays, primarily because the players come to his music, not the other way around. Derek Trucks weaves in some raga-scented slide ("Aigna"), and jazz-fusion jammer John Scofield induces Mahavishnu Orchestra flashbacks ("Gido").
For those who've had the opportunity to hear Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré's burning 2010 Six Degrees' Live album -- or were among the billion people (literally) who saw his performance at the World Cup that year -- you heard or saw a bona fide guitar hero coming into his own. That said, the son of the late Ali Farka Touré has arrived. On The Secret, he's taken his father's meld of Malian rhythms, drones, and melodies with American blues to an entirely new level.
Vieux Farka Touré‘s 2010 live album was heavy on the electrified side of the electric/traditional equation, with effects-laden guitars and thundering bass propelling through high-energy takes on his tunes, most of which were taken from the 2009 release Fondo. Given that his debut album was a more organic affair, it remained to be seen in which direction Vieux would be moving, toward tradition or modernity. In light of The Secret, the none-too-clear answer is: both.
Has Africa produced an axe hero to conquer mainstream America? Vieux Farka Touré, 29-year-old son of the late Mali guitarist Ali, has his eye on the prize. His third album concentrates on blues-rock, albeit rooted in the traditions of his homeland. Helping out are American guests Eric Krasnow, Derek Trucks, John Schofield and Dave Matthews, the last contributing a graceful vocal on "All the Same".
An African-pop fusion piece which works, designed to appeal to a Western audience. Robin Denselow 2011 Still in his late 20s, Vieux Farka Touré already has an impressively brave career behind him. He dared to become a musician against the initial wishes of his legendary father, Ali Farka Touré; and he dared to use, and transform, the Malian desert blues style that had made his dad the best-loved guitarist in Mali and across West Africa.
Ali Farka Touré scion Vieux Farka Touré cakes his father's mesmerizing guitar drone in a wasp's nest of electric buzz. VFT's third release for S.F. eclectics Six Degrees, The Secret whispers the title track's final studio outing of the elder Malian, but it's South African Dave Matthews stealing the show with his wickedly heartfelt vocal on haunting spiritual "All the Same." Derek Trucks, jazz axe John Scofield, and producer/Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno all go toe-to-toe with the phosphorescent Vieux.
Whether or not Quietus readers have heard the lithe and characterful guitar of Vieux Farka Touré probably depends on how they feel about the label 'world music', the scene in which the young Malian's music has been filed since he emerged from the shadow of his legendary guitarist father, Ali, with a self-titled album in 2007. The term's long been considered outdated, many of us now preferring an idea of global music that seems less carefully curated by the West, less generalized, more 'found', raw and immediate (and other, equally problematic terms). I'd imagine Vieux Farka Touré doesn't mind being bracketed in one of the remaining music sectors where people pay for music and an artist's longevity is valued.