"Niafunke" - Ali Farka Toure

"Niafunke"
Ali Farka Toure

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'Niafunke' by Ali Farka Toure
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Ali Farka Toure's first album since his 1994 collaboration with Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktu, makes a convincing argument for the adage that home is where the art is. Recorded in an abandoned brick edifice located between Toure's extensive rice fields and the Sahara-bordering village of Niafunké, Mali, this is the guitarist's most purely African album yet. Local percussionists, a sensuous village chorus, and a lonely one-stringed njarka violin accompany Toure here, replacing the Western guests who've tended to stilt his prior records. More relaxed and less gratuitously ornamental than before (especially when he plays acoustically), Toure digs deeply into spare, loping pentatonic grooves that extend beyond the usual John Lee Hooker blues comparisons into territory older, richer, and more folkloric (and Islamic) than earlier records have approached. --Richard Gehr

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