To listen to his music is to become immersed in a Malian history lesson, set to the cries of pain, tears of happiness and moans of love and hope of the rich, diverse African nation. With music, Samba Toure manages to capture his countries resilience, heritage and speak to us outsiders of the sheer pain of the conflict his people have lived through.
Samba Touré’s latest album, Gandadiko is uptempo, heartbreakingly nostalgic yet we dare you not to toe-tap your way through it.
With his previous album, Albala, Samba Toure caught the world in a gasp with the fear-laden atmosphere of Mali he managed to capture. The album was recorded in 2012 when northern Mali (including his ancestral village of Diré) had been captured by extreme Islamists and sharia law put into practice. Bamako, his adopted home, was still picking up the pieces from the chaos of the recent military coup. The album made a statement in true Malian musical fashion, about war, the toll on the people affected by war and the political mess his beloved country was in.The album received international acclaim and was called out as the best album of Samba’s long, successful career.According to his ‘bandcamp’ page, the title of his latest album, Gandadiko, means: “Land of Drought” or “Burning Land.” in Songhai.Philippe Sanmiguel, a record producer living in Bamako (Anansy Cissé, Mariam Koné) and Samba’s producer for both albums, provides the details:“One thing I’m sure of is that we didn’t want to do a second ‘Albala’. For Samba that album was maybe a little too sad and he wanted something closer to who he really is: hopeful. So the challenge was to have something as strong as ‘Albala’, but with more variety in the rhythms and moods and colors. I think the album sounds musically less dark, it’s more danceable and up-tempo, but, sorry Samba, it’s not entirely a joyful album. Tension, troubles and danger are still there in many of the songs.On Touri Idjé Bibi (Black Fruits) the final lines of the song are the most telling;
“Oh earth, forgiveness, oh river forgiveness,
Everyday we offend you.”
Listen to the song below for yourself and watch how Samba’s guitar-playing trances the goosebumps up on your arms.
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