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Anansy Cissé

Mali Overdrive

(Tugboat; US: 27 May 2014; UK: 26 May 2014)

Anansy Cissé makes his voice thick and muzzy, though sometimes it zips up into an almost-falsetto. The guitar in “Sekou Amadou” is slowly violent. The songs themselves are not violent—they’re examples of that kind of pan-African pop song that asks people to stay respectable and knock off the warfare. His building blocks are mainly Malian, primarily northern Malian, plus rock. None of them are new, but the execution is king here, the guitar jutting slowly right and left and commanding attention without begging for it. A taste for Led Zeppelin doesn’t tempt him into showstopper crescendos. It keeps him rubbing around for fuzz. Cissé ran a recording studio in the north until religious extremists and civil war pushed him south to Bamako. He’s not much of a self-promoter and friends had to persuade him to submit his music to World Music Network’s international Battle of the Bands. Thence to Mali Overdrive. Send us all friends like that.

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