Travel to Africa with me for a moment of music from a long line of amazing artists: The Touré family. Descendent of Ali Farka Touré, the legendary blues guitarist, and arguably one of the most influential figures in African music history, Vieux Farka Touré delivers in spades with his 2009 release “Fondo (The Road).”
If you are in search of a cross-cultural music experience, this is a fantastic album to start your plunge. Mixing traditional African blues with new melodies and vocal patterns, Fondo continues to build on the strong tradition of the Touré family to mix both traditional melodies and concepts with new age themes and refrains. This album represents an uplifting departure from the groups self titled 2006 release “Vieux Farka Touré”
Starting off with the track “Fafa Doboy,” Touré sets up the course of the album, revealing a solid tempo and more fluent. This album has marked a point of maturity that his previous release did not quite capitalize on. It just sounds comfortable and relaxed, easy-going and unassuming, perfect to listen to when one is interested in music that they don’t have to think too hard about, but still want something eye opening. Another marked change in this album is the amount of free-flowing guitar solos, and intersects, with an emphasis placed on guitar playing the role of communicator, instead of a selected rythm piece, as implemented in his previous album.
From there, we continue the trend through two other pieces, noting again, the flowing nature of the songs. A high point is marked in track number four, “Sarama” in which the more vigorous side of Touré starts to shine through again, and the listener could be enticed to turn up the volume, stand up, and start grooving to the well-laid bass beat, and intermingling vocals backed up by fast paced guitar play.
Track five, “Walé” I feel pays tribute to Ali Farka Toure in minimilastic nature with passionate vocals and subdued background beat. It is a fitting homage similar to Ali’s style; Vieux is able to put certain twists and turns on the melody that mark his ascendance and differentiation from his father’s previous work in the genre.
Continuing it’s confident theme, we wind through six other tracks, sampling inspirations and styles from other genres such as reggae with “Diaraby Magni,” and tracks such as “Paradise,” which features more traditional instrumentation.
Overall, this album is definitely different than Touré’s first offering, but it also marks a fantastic maturation of sound and style. This is a good thing. Both albums are fantastic, and the effect is similar to purchasing two identical bottles of wine; drinking one that night at home, but letting the other sit in the cellar for a few years. They both come from the same source, and both are enjoyable in their own right, and in their own time.
I highly recommend “Fondo” By Vieux Farka Touré, and with over twenty plays on my computer, have the data to back that recommendation up.