There’ an amazing sound. It sounds like nothing else. It’s the sound of the African desert, the sound of slow finger picked riffing, of slight African percussion and wailing vocals. It’s the sound of the Mali blues. It’s a collision of cultures, where the African American bluesman meet traditional Mali sounds and wind up in the hands of the legendary desert bluesman Ali Farka Toure. It’s possible that no African musician has ever enjoyed as much success in the West, yet at the height of his success Farka Toure opted to return to Northern Mali on the banks of the River Niger and focus on farming. He makes new records infrequently. He won a Grammy with Ry Cooder for Talking Timbuktu. Yet it took 7 years before he recorded a follow up, and even then it was recorded in his hometown of Niafunke because he refused to leave. And again last year he recorded In The Heart of The Moon with Kora player Tounami Diabate without leaving Mali. This film from Frenchman Marc Hurax offers much more than an Ali Farka Toure profile. It’s amazing to visit his home and farm, be a fly on the wall as he travels through Mali recounting his difficult childhood. You can hear it all in his incredible music, yet there’ nothing like adding a bit of context. There are some incredibly poignant moments, Farka Toure stretching out on the banks of the Niger recounting an experience of being possessed by spirits in his childhood, or listening to a live record of Otis Redding, where Farka Toure clasps his hands as if in prayer. The music weaves throughout the piece, there’ numerous live tracks, often impromptu jams on a boat or in some decrepit huts. There’ also a UN performance, in which he plays to an impassive audience, yet still conjures an amazing amount of emotion such is the depth of his sound.
A couple of bonus live tracks.