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September 13, 2008 - guardian.co.uk:

Damon produces Amadou and Mariam

The Monkey maestro mans on the decks on the Malian duo's new single. Just don't call it 'world music' or he'll get pretty shirty.

Amadou and Mariam
Amadou and Mariam

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.

Sean Michaels

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