African guitarist Ali Farka Toure's previous releases were wonderful mixes of traditional language and rhythms being supported by contemporary concerns, instrumentalists, and producers. His most recent session features his working band backing Toure in a series of impassioned, animated tunes that are done in both his native tongue and English. The similarity between Toure's sparse playing and percussive writing and early blues songs has been noted. What also deserves mention is the cohesive qualities his band have and the way his electric and acoustic playing, with its light, frilly air, fills in the spaces underneath his vocals easily.
It is unfortunate that the early recordings by this brilliant Malian guitarist/singer/songwriter have been somewhat overshadowed by his better-known collaborations with Western artists (such as 1994's Grammy-winning, TALKING TIMBUKTU with Ry Cooder). This is not to say that Ali Farka Toure's more recent efforts aren't excellent, but rather that albums like THE SOURCE are so exceptional as to outshine even the best of his other work. Like his self-titled debut, THE SOURCE focuses on Toure's lucid, bluesy, guitar work and beautiful vocals (he sings in French and West African dialects) informed by work chants and Islamic melodies.
Many of the tracks, such as "Dofana" (a narrative that details community work in Niafunke, Toure's homeland) and the quietly mesmerizing "Inchana Massina," revolve around hypnotic guitar drones reminiscent of American blues music from the North Mississippi hills. Textures are heightened by Toure's double-tracked guitars (his fluid, electric leads are often anchored by a lock-rhythm acoustic) and the occasional colorings of a wood flute called a njarka. All of these elements combine to create an organic, indigenous music of almost overwhelmingly intense beauty. THE SOURCE is a superior work by one of Africa's finest and most original voices.Entertainment Weekly (7/30/93, p.58) - "...THE SOURCE can prompt gasps from listeners: [Ali Farka Toure's] voice and bubbling guitars make connections between American blues and African sources shiveringly clear..." - Rating: A-
Down Beat (Oct./93, p.45) - 4 Stars - Very Good - "...A stunning meld of American acoustic blues and gentle West African rhythms..."
Option (Nov.-Dec./92, p.149) - "...simply magical....A lovely and endearing album--Toure makes music like no one else..."
Musician (10/93, p.92) - "...Ali Farka's charm rests in how he connects the delta blues with some of its African antecedents....as peaceful and beautiful an album as you're likely to hear..."
. Goye Kur
. Inchana Massina
. Hawa Dolo
. Cinquante Six
. I Go Ka
. Mahini Me
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