Monday, August 8, 2011

Damon Albarn - Mali Music

Between rock supergroups, operas, and cartoon hitmakers, it can be tough to keep track of all the goings on in Damon Albarn's music career. That being said, almost more than any other, the project that has stuck with us the longest is 2002's Mali Music.

Recorded in Africa, and assembled/produced in the UK, the record is the product of a trip Albarn took to Africa (specifically, Mali) after the completion of the first Gorillaz tour. The recordings consist of an amalgam of field recordings, Albarn's collaborations while abroad, and studio overdubs. The end result is a product that sounds simultaneously traditionally African, highly experimental, and enjoyably poppy, all in one go.

Albarn later enticed his collaborators to join him in the UK, and perform on a number of TV shows in support of the record (videos above). While the live performances don't quite have the polish of the studio record, they do their job to illustrate the manifestation of Albarn's studio crafting in a live environment. They demonstrate his aptitude at managing to experiment with new musical styles with out sinking to Paul Simon-esque crossover theatrics, and illustrate why Mali Music is one of the most underrated musical branchings in recent memory.