Riverboat/World Music Network
I love the distinct blues of Mali – that guitar sound, the type you do not get anywhere else in the world, its weave, its way of threading through the bass and percussion, a line for the voice to follow – here’s the international debut from rising star Anansy Cisse. It’s rock/blues-infused yet plays to the traditional sound of Mali’s blues with talented players joining him to create this including soku player Zoumana Tereta.
And yes there’s a backstory of heartbreak too – something you have to consider when hearing this, for it informs the music most obviously. During the 2012 Islamist uprising in the troubled north of Mali Cisse was forced to close his home studio, to take what he could and flee, to make a new life. Relocated to makeshift digs in Bamako he met Philippe Sanmiguel – he would become Anansy’s manager and percussionist. These two began to build this album, based around Cisse’s songs and the punctuating guitar.
The result now, two years on, is 10 wonderful songs – you’re hearing a life flowing through this album, you’re hearing about how different this life is. And there’s that hypnotic weave of the guitar and percussion as melody and rhythm is engaged in a dance, entwined. There’s that voice too – reminiscent at times of Lobi Traore. The shards of the guitar, always that hint of what Tinariwen has brought to the attention of the western world.
Closing track, Gomni, is wistful and lithe, opener Baala, places the voice immediately in the picture, that guitar sitting just behind, issuing the support with a scratchy rhythm that sets up the gentle squall of the soku (a type of fiddle). Every track on Mali Overdrive feels like a new special highlight. Not a note is wasted here. Glorious.