Afel Bocoum – Linde (2020) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Afel Bocoum – Lindé (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 45:08 minutes | 875 MB | Genre: World
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Odradek Records

Afel Bocoum is among the last of a breakthrough generation of African musicians who cross-pollinated their own traditional music with the new sounds that arrived from all over the world throughout the 20th century. Hailing from Niafunké in the Timbuktu region of Mali, an area that straddles the cultural riches and political tensions between the northern and southern areas of the country, Bocoum spent decades touring and recording with desert blues pioneer Ali Farka Touré. His debut album ‘Alkibar’ (1999, World Circuit) propelled him to international recognition, leading him to work with Damon Albarn & Toumani Diabaté on 2002’s Mali Music, as well as contributing regularly to the famed Africa Express projects, and collaborating with Béla Fleck, Habib Koité, and Tartit Ensemble among others.

Lindé, named after the wild expanse near his hometown that he spent his childhood exploring, is a remarkable blend of deep tradition and audacious innovation. With the support of executive producers Damon Albarn & Nick Gold, Lindé stitches together the age-old music of the Niger bend, featuring performances from eminent Malian musicians including Madou Kouyaté, the late ‘Hama’ Sankaré and Madou Sidiki Diabaté, with interventions as diverse as the drums of Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen, the trombone of Vin Gordon (Bob Marley / Skatalites), and the violin of Joan as Police Woman. Traditional instruments like the ngoni, njurkele, kora and calabash blend with guitars, percussion and call-and-response vocals. The result is a gently undulating flow that emanates from a source hidden deep in the historical and mystical traditions of Bocoum’s native land, enriched along its way by tributaries and cross-currents. It’s music that rolls rather than rocks, graceful, unforced and minimal by design.

It’s also an album with a message – in the face of an uncertain and turbulent world, and a homeland struggling with jihad, poverty and tribal war, Afel Bocoum urges hope, solidarity and unity. “We have to meet each other, talk to each other, look each other in the eye and tell the truth,” Afel says. “Our social security is music. That’s all we’ve got left. People love music, so we have to make use of that fact.”

For decades, the musical traditions of Mali have proved irresistible to English and American audiences; one of the first giants of Malian music to cross over was Ali Farka Tour. As a boy, Afel Bocoum idolized Touré, eventually becoming a member of his band and, thanks to Touré, getting his own international record deal. That deal has slowly borne fruit—Bocoum’s World Circuit debut, Alkibar, was released in 1999; Lindé, is itss follow-up. To be fair, Bocoum also released two excellent albums with his band Alkibar on Belgian label Contre-Jour in 2006 and 2009 and worked with Damon Albarn on 2002’s Mali Music. (Albarn and World Circuit founder Nick Gold are executive producers on Lindé.) But in tone, texture, and construction, Lindé is very much the successor to Alkibar, combining a range of Malian song traditions and instruments with Bocoum’s mellow, muscular voice and blues-flecked guitar and a grab-bag of guest spots. The album is quite vibe-y throughout, giving off a relaxed, midtempo feel that also shows a slight weariness: The current political and economic state of Mali is dire, and while Lindé does not directly address his country’s issues, Bocoum’s insistence on optimism and unity stands as its own sort of statement. The reggae-adjacent groove of “Bombolo Liilo” is one of the best examples, as Bocoum has constructed a rather intricate composition here, with a loping trombone line by Studio One mainstay Vin Gordon that complements, rather than doubles, the guitar melody, as Madou Sidiki Diabaté’s kora provides a unique, bluesy filigree. Likewise, on “Yer Gando,” Bocoum’s plaintive vocals are supported by violin (Joan as Police Woman’s Joan Wasser) and ngoni (Harouna Samake Kamale) that, for a moment at least, gives the song a country-and-western vibe. That easy, instinctive interplay between musicians drives the proceedings here, resulting in an album that sounds breezy and casual on the surface, but, ultimately, is a much more complex and satisfying creation. – Jason Ferguson


1. Afel Bocoum – Penda Djiga
2. Afel Bocoum – Bombolo Liilo
3. Afel Bocoum – Dakamana
4. Afel Bocoum – Fari Intro
5. Afel Bocoum – Fari Njungu
6. Afel Bocoum – Jaman Bisa
7. Afel Bocoum – Avion
8. Afel Bocoum – Sambu Kamba
9. Afel Bocoum – Yer Gando
10. Afel Bocoum – Kakilena
11. Afel Bocoum – Djougal