[30 July 2012]
Toumani Diabaté is collaborating again. “Mali-Brasil” says the album’s subtitle. It’s him and two Brazilians, Antunes, the singer-songwriter, and Scandurra, the rock guitarist. The Brazilian voices grind dry and rumble, not always melodious, but the kora is melodious with whatever it does, and this combination is not quite like anything Diabaté has done before—the grubby nuzzling of Antunes and the honey trickle of the harp. Street and boudoir. Scandurra’s guitar pokes the songs like a thumb—wake up. The register shifts, now more West African and sweeping, now more Hendrix and restless, now everybody lightens off for a simple jingle or lilt, now “Coração de Mãe” is darkened by the guitar and a marimba. Three different sensibilities means at least three different directions to investigate, and they don’t set up obvious signposts—they start off in one place and melt into another: straightforward songs acquire detail without becoming fussy. Brilliant three-way creature.