|Description:||Ali Farka Toure's first album since his 1994 collaboration with Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktu, makes a convincing argument for the adage that home is where the art is. Recorded in an abandoned brick edifice located between Toure's extensive rice fields and the Sahara-bordering village of Niafunké, Mali, this is the guitarist's most purely African album yet. Local percussionists, a sensuous village chorus, and a lonely one-stringed njarka violin accompany Toure here, replacing the Western guests who've tended to stilt his prior records. More relaxed and less gratuitously ornamental than before (especially when he plays acoustically), Toure digs deeply into spare, loping pentatonic grooves that extend beyond the usual John Lee Hooker blues comparisons into territory older, richer, and more folkloric (and Islamic) than earlier records have approached. --Richard Gehr
|Review:||Wire (1/00, p.67) - Included in Wire Magazine's "50 Records Of The Year ['99]"
CMJ (1/10/00, p.25) - Included in CMJ's "New World '99 Top 5."
Q Magazine (9/99, p.117) - 4 stars (out of 5) - "...Toure comes home in style....the kind of big-boned, backyard affair that no amount of elaborate studio technology can match....NIAFUNKE marks a welcome step backwards. And a good three forward."
Wire (8/99, p.52) - "...The blues strand is still much in evidence and deeply satisfying, but Toure at home seems more than ever in touch with Mali's indigenous musical tradition, the richness of which has few parallels anywhere in the world..."
CMJ (7/12/99, p.27) - "...[Toure's] use of complex hand percussion,...violin, and a female call-and-response chorus will remind you that the rhythms of the Niger River...are the supple influences thatmake NIAFUNKE such a special message..."
Mojo (7/99, p.106) - "...The blues reign supreme here once again....the original bluesman [delves] even further into prehistoric rock..."
Dirty Linen (10-11/99, p.70) - "...further exploring the taproot of the blues....NIAFUNKE is a rich, subtle piece of work..."