When most people think of Mali, they’re probably subconsciously adding a “Bob” on the front of it and launching into “Iron Like A Lion In Zion” on their internal jukebox. Certainly, unless you’re of that bent, Mali isn’t a place that occupies much of a basecamp on your musical Everest, despite the enormous contribution Malian artists – like Ali Farka Toure – have made towards the world music oeuvre.
Like Farka Toure, Songhoy Blues are not just Malian, they’re Songhai, and like Farka Toure (and his son Vieux), their music is inspired not only by their native land, but also by the blues. The mix of the two works, so much so that you’d struggle to place their music geographically, taking it out of the realm of “world music” and into, well, just music.
“Soubour”, their new single on Transgressive Records, is a procession of chopping guitars, elusive percussion, and driving, almost chanted, vocals. It’s timeless, too, and would be equally at home on a soundtrack of 1969 London as present-day New York. The album, Music In Exile, produced by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is varied but unmistakably the work of the same band, something that ties them to label-mates Foals and At The Drive-In, past-masters of mixing style and feeling and ’ness into a SOUND.
The band are touring the UK throughout the summer and autumn, with a series of solo shows following appearances at a festival near you. If you’ve got room for something different and odd but instantly familiar and groovy in your life, Songhoy Blues are worth three minutes of your time. You might find that those three minutes turn into many, many more…
(“Soubour” is released on Transgressive Records on May 11th)
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Songhoy Blues on tour, 2015:
15th Norwich, Norwich Festival
16th Brighton, The Great Escape
17th Braziers Park, Wood Festival
28th London, Village Underground – SOLD OUT
21st Ballinglough Castle, Body & Soul Festival
3rd Vicarage Farm, Blissfields Festival
16th Winchester, Boontown Fair Festival
22nd Brecon Beacons, Greenman Festival
22nd Glasgow, SWG3 Warehouse Studio
23rd Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
24th Brighton, Concorde 2
25th Manchester, Gorilla
26th Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
27th Bristol, The Fleece
4th London, KOKO