INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Mojo FEBRUARY 2014 - by David Sheppard
AFRICA EXPRESS: MAISON DES JEUNES
Ad hoc global collective hunker down for a week in a studio in Bamako, Mali.
Previously a Damon Albarn instigated live phenomenon, Africa Express' debut long-player marries a tranche of Malian musicians with an eclectic sprinkling of visiting Western producers and artists. Named for the youth club on the banks of the Niger where the album was captured, its essays essays range from the subtlest hybrids (Two Inch Punch's discreet electronic sieving of Adama Koita's lilting Fantainfalla Toyi Bolo; Albarn's hands-off production of Gambari and Kankou Kouyaté's elegant desert ballad, Yamore) to full-on crossbreeds (Timbuktu combo Songhoy Blues in rocking alliance with Yeah Yeah Yeahs' axeman Nick Zinner on Soubour) and oblique interventions (Brian Eno's sibilant reverb treatments on Yacouba Sissoko Band's urgent Chanson Denko Tapestry). Not an entirely novel idea - WOMAD began provoking spontaneous international cross-fertilisation three decades ago - Africa Express score by proffering a raw immediacy and innovative spirit that instantly expels any whiff of imperialist musical tourism.