Wednesday, April 1, 2009

welcome to mali by amadou & mariam

To quote the great Richie Havens, "We're all made of the same stuff. If you find someone made of something different let me know; it'll freak me out!" As a travel addict (I'd spoon with my passport at night if it didn't bend the pages), I'm always disproportionally gleeful when we can add a new "location" tag. Conversely, I abhor the phrase "world music" and everything it stands for. Let's face it, the phrase evokes inaccessible tribal beats -- stirring to action that dormant part of my1 Anglo-Saxon brain that screams, "this is not like me! Cannot compute! AHAHHAHA!" But, without tapping into the ultra-hippy side of my personality, aren't we all part of the same "world?" (I'll hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" if you will.) This internal struggle is probably why it's taken me so long to give Amadou & Mariam the respect they deserve.

The real question: isn't music just music? Every musician, be it five-year-olds in classical piano classes or the aforementioned tribal drummers, all start out with the same basic building blocks. Then, those five-year-olds grow up, start snarky music blogs, and spend years convincing themselves they have nothing in common with musicians a few continents over. That is, until a blind husband and wife team come along and shatter all their preconceived notions. Without sacrificing any of their cultural sensibilities, Amadou & Nariam have struck a universal chord. Welcome to Mali marries traditional beats to modern electronics and classic pop structures. It's infectious with a clear wide appeal. So much so in fact Coldplay (a.k.a. the whitest culturally sensitive guys since U2) have asked them to open their summer tour. And you know what? For once, I simply cannot mock Chris Martin and the gang. From the electro happy choruses of "Sabali" to the chant happy "Africa" to the down right joyful lyrics freely alternating between French and English -- it's hard not to feel engaged. Joyfully engaged.

World music...it's all "world music." I'll let you know when we start getting blog submissions from intergalactic bands. Then I'll really freak out.

1. Ill-advised hyperbole for dramatic effect.

1 comment:

Caio said...

Lovely. . .i'm addicted to african music