Ali Farka Touré: musical genius passes

A master of spontaneously precise improvisation is no more (yes yes its a mouthful of an opening sentence but accurate so I will not repent). His last work, Savane, is a fitting monument which words fail to describe or do justice to. Best shut up and listen. The genius delivers the goods in his glorious laid-back style so aptly captured on the album cover. I miss Savane as well as the integrity in the sounds of Niafunké horribly. Takes a lot of metta to prevent me from kicking myself for leaving the CDs behind during the evacuation.

After ditching the old Walkman I refuse to join the herd of ear-plugged iPoders. It was music through speakers or nothing. I didn’t consider myself a “World Music” (an inexplicably inadequate tern) fanatic. Bothered to listen to my music stash only sporadically. Now it is not with me and perhaps half of it on a ship chugging unhurriedly towards Colombo. The absence is deafening.

Yet all is not lost. Have been twiddling the radio dial in the chariot. Developed a liking to yfm and Sha FM. Into the vacuum floods the new.

Writing this post has become a contemplation – of how I regard music in general and my eccentric (other peoples’ words) taste in sound. I don’t think I’m the only Sri Lanka partial to Malian music but I admit its unusual.

The sort of thing I will have to explain repeatedly but that’s another post, another page.


9 thoughts on “Ali Farka Touré: musical genius passes

  1. Thanks for this post. Liked Sarvane the least of all the albums of his I have – like the latest Norah Jones, it’s just a remix of earlier brilliance. Talking Timbuktu (with Ry Cooder and the first of his albums I listened to), In the Heart of the Moon and Niafunke are my favourites, in that order.

    And if you dig music from Mali, suggest In Griot Time.



  2. Wow my first visitor comment!
    Talking Timbuktu was also my 1st Touré album 🙂 I only got that, Niafunke and Sarvane so clearly I’m missing out. Haven’t been listening much music in the last 2 years so I got lots to catch up on. Many thanks for the In Griot Time tip.

    Now I got to find a decent used CD place in Colombo that doesn’t carry bootlegs. A tall order no?


  3. Indeed 🙂 Let me know if you find one.

    Stuff like In Griot Time would be really hard, if not impossible, to find in Sri Lanka. Recently ordered the latest Norah JOnes (terrible) and Corrine Bailey Rae (super stuff) from Amazon, and had to pay SLR 663/- customs duty, which I suppose brings the price of each CD to only slightly less than what you would pay for it in Colombo if it was available.

    If you like Griot Time, check out Deb by Souad Massi (which includes possibly my favourite song of all – Le Bien Et Le Mal) and Black Ivory Soul, Angelique Kidjo’s second album (I think) but definitely her best. Deb will be a hard find in SL, but you may be able to get Black Ivory Soul here – it’s a bit more mainstream.


  4. You are definitely a connoisseur. 😀 Thank you for all the names: Angelique Kidjo, Souad Massi and Corrine Bailey Rae.

    I’m wondering if its time to rig up the short wave and pick up something off the air. There has to be someone with a stash of this type of music in Colombo (maybe they will have some good Corsican folk music too). No I’m not an optimist – just an entity that considers the glass as being twice as big as it needs to be.

    The global hit section on The World showon line (link might not be static) has regular sampling of a wide variety. Used to check it more frequently. Should do that again.

    I’d bet the world music market here is too tiny for anyone to import it on a commercial basis. Though I can’t escape the feeling that it would be a something that is very Barefoot.


  5. I pick up all my CDs from trips abroad – places like Vancouver and Ottawa have a wonderfully eclectic collection in most CD stores. Even the mainstream ones like Virgin and Sony BMG have a selection that always includes an interesting mix of world / new funk / nu jazz / Malian music from new and established artistes.
    I remember picking up the sublime Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux on a whim, not having heard of her, from this small, but incredibly well stocked CD shop in Vancouver. No computer – just an owner with an encyclopedic knowledge of genres and music.

    Frankly, I think the future of music is online – and though doesn’t accept VISA anymore, I did use it extensively from 2004 – 2005 to download most albums for a fraction of their cost in the real world straight into iTunes.


  6. I guess that’s the only option. I just miss the serendipity of picking up stuff at some hole in the wall used music shop. Most of the time I’ve walked into a place and they had something very interesting that I never heard of. Don’t think I would have even encountered it if I was on line. I guess the thing is keep the ears open.

    Many thanks for the Madeleine Peyroux recomendation. I think I had heard one of the tracks a while back but never found out who the artist was.


  7. Sounds pretty good. Anyway, in east russian language we call it moosika (music). Sounds funny little bit, isn’t it? When people dies in village, they used to sing such sort of songs. Interesting. right?


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