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A rollercoaster ride across several cultures
Jackie Hayden, 15 May 2012
Amadou and Mariam are a blind married Mali couple who’ve set the world alight with their zestful rhythms and evocative French and Bambara vocals. In the past they’ve dallied with Damon Albarn and Coldplay; on this occasion, for Folila, they recorded in New York with members of Scissor Sisters, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold and TV On The Radio, before adding African musicians playing native instruments. And the result is a truly mouth-watering musical stew, Amadou’s pulsating guitar underpinning the diverse ingredients.
Santigold adds her own spice to the rattling opener ‘Dougou Badia’, as two worlds gloriously collide in the guitars of Amado and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Jake Shears brings extra dancefloor fire to ‘Metemya’, and ‘Africa Mon Afrique’ has keyboards (by Amp Fiddler) plus brass to add fresh tones to Amadou and Mariam’s natural sizzle. Theophilus London raps up a storm on ‘Nebe Miri’; meanwhile, ‘Wily Kataso’ lopes along on top of a sharp groove courtesy of Zinner. Left to their own devices, on ‘Sans Toi’ the duo showcase the magical interweaving of guitar, violin and harmonica to evoke the heat of the African outdoors. ‘Cherie’ is a gem, ending a magical rollercoaster ride across several cultures in fine style.