It may not do much for their world music cred, but it can't
hurt with the indie kids. For their new single, Malian pop
duo Amadou and Mariam have tossed out Manu Chao - who
produced their last album - and brought in Damon Albarn.
As all is quiet with Blur, Gorillaz and the Good, the Bad
and the Queen, Albarn has turned to producing world music
records – manning the decks on Sabali, the first single from
Amadou and Mariam's forthcoming album, Welcome to Mali.
The album is a less interestingly named follow-up to
Dimanche a Bamako, one of the feel-good hits of 2005. With
that record, Amadou and Mariam collected the BBC Radio 3
Award for world music album of the year. Maybe this time
they're hoping for an NME cover.
Along with Albarn, Welcome to Mali includes performances by
Canadian rapper K'Naan, blues-funk singer Keziah Jones, and
Toumani Diabate - famous not just for his sparkling kora
playing but for his collaborations with Björk and, yes, you
guessed it, Damon Albarn. Albarn worked with several Malian
musicians on 2002's aptly named Mali Music album.
Welcome to Mali is out November 17, to be preceded on
October 22 and 23 by two Africa Express concerts in London,
part of Albarn's continuing series bringing together African
and Western musicians.