May 2, 2008

Toumani Diabaté - The Mandé Variations

Artist:Toumani Diabaté
Album: The Mandé Variations
Year: 2008

Toumani Diabate is a Malian master of the kora.The kora is a 21-string harp, of sorts, crafted out of a halved calabash gourd, cow skin and fishing line. Watching someone play it is not unlike watching someone weave, with the results as beautiful as an intricate tapestry.. 'The Mande Variations' is only his second solo album although Toumani has been a guest of various artists such as Ali Farka Toure('In The Heart of the Moon'), Bjork('Volta'), Taj Mahal('Kulanjan') and Roswell Rudd('Malicool').
This beautifully recorded acoustic album is a masterpiece of traditional African music which should appeal to a wide audience and deserves to be a strong contender for World Music record of 2008.
A masterpiece of musical virtuosity

"Toumani Diabaté chose a more minimalistic approach to his music on this one compared to its predecessor Boulevard d e l'Independance. In fact on this record, it's only him. And his kora of course. One easily forgets about electric guitars and synths when hearing the beautiful sounds coming from this 21-stringed harp, especially when it's played by one of its greatest masters, Toumani Diabaté.
What characterizes this record is the fact that it allows the listener a lot of space to focus on the music - the complicated melodic structures and the polyrhythms. In other words this is not a record to be played in a background while you're attending other business. To feel the beauty and tunefulness present here, you really have to listen carefully. But in the end you're rewarded, of course, because all 8 tracks are hauntingly pretty - highlights being the precious tribute track "Ali Farka Touré" and the intense melodic evolvements of "Si Naani".(


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