For their ninth full-length album, the Malian duo of Amadou and Miriam have a trick up their sleeve.
Not a duo that settles for a routine (having brought on Manu Chao for their 2005 breakthrough Dimanche À Bamako and worked with a great deal of Western artists like TV On the Radio and Santigold on their 2012 effort Folila), some fans were wondering what the famed married couple were looking to transform their blues-meets-African-rock sound that has so become their signature over the years.
As it turns out, the answer for La Confusion is synths.
Don’t worry: the group isn’t going for total Hall & Oates-styled octagon drum revisionism here, but the sweet sax on “Massa Allah”, the slow keyboard intro of “Cest Chaud”, and the light deep synth pads of “Bofou Safou” makes for a sound that is both surprisingly retro and wonderfully contemporary all at once. It’s a subtle but welcome twist to the group’s sound, adding a new layer of color to the duo’s often guitar-driven workouts without compromising the whole of Amadou and Miriam represent.
To celebrate the occasion, the duo tackles PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing loves for everything ranging from Robin Hood to touring to a surprising amount of Pink Floyd iconography.
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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
[No answer given.]
2. The fictional character most like you?
Robin Hood could be one of the characters.
3. The greatest album, ever? Only one?
That’s a tough one. We like so many albums! Any from Toumani Diabate, Pink Floyd.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Can we keep only the stars only? We are not really familiar but the sky has plenty of stars.
5. Your ideal brain food?
Sound, this is essential for us. Every single sound is [a] source of feelings and creation for us.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
To be where we are now. We worked hard and enjoyed [it] while but both of us are proud of the opportunity life gave us of playing and collaborating with so many people along the path.
7. You want to be remembered as ...?
Mali musicians that experimented with traditional music and other styles. Let’s say “musicians explorers”.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
So many inspirations, music- and life-wise.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Any hymn song like “Imagine” or “Another Brick in the Wall”.
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
I have a very good memory and I’m good on tech.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
We have good people around us, family and friends that support and give us good advice.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
My Trussart guitar bought years ago. For Mariam, she really likes a piece of jewelry designed with braille writing—this was a gift but she loves it.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
Our traditional clothes are personally designed but it fits super well with Armani.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
That’s a good one. It would definitely be a mix between our personal friends and Bono from U2, our musicians, [and] Roger Waters.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
Our recent tour in the US. It was intense but worth to do it. Almost a city per day during three weeks from east to west coast. But we enjoyed so much!
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Sleep and massage.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Black tea and dry fruits.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Bamako, Mali. Where our family lives and our heart is.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Not only to our leader but to the world: peace.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now? Right now?
I’m with my guitar playing “Money”. We are going to perform this song in a few hours with Bambara lyrics.