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Amadou and Mariam: La Confusion

review amadou & mariam x1 cong

There’s world music and there’s world music. There’s the rootsy world of earnest music fans, which is played by traditional artists who are probably seen as traditional in their own lands. Then there’s the world music that the owners of internet radios can listen to: music that’s played for (say) Africans to listen to as they work in their shops and garages. This is a blend of western pop and the traditional; we get Ed Sheeran adding a world beat, Africans get bands adding a western feel.

So with this. We don’t know whether the album title is a nod to the confusion in their homeland (parts of Mali still suffer from conflict at the hands of Islamists and the Tuareg) or Confusion, a 1975 album by Fela Kuti, a political commentary on Lagos.

Taking the African beat/rhythm as a given, opener Bofou Safou is a New Order-ish dance track with a fluid bass and hypnotic refrain. There’s a general 80s feel-good air, and in songs like C’est Chaud there’s a hint of Duran Duran (again, ignoring the Afrobeat sound), with Filaou Bessame having a good 80s sax solo. Songs such as Filaou Bessame and Ta Promesse are purer African pop.

It’s not in English but we guess the cheery music, which will sound good over the workplace radio, masks serious political lyrics: Femmes du Monde must be about equality for women in a land where Islamists are fighting for control. World music as listened to by people of the world, while being ripe for trendy remixes, too.


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