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Vieux Farka Toure | Mon Pays

album review by John Powell

Vieux Farka Toure | Mon Pays

Subtlety in music can be disarming. Instead of thumping beats, screeching synths, and roaring guitars, how do you make music that’s still danceable? Vieux Farka Toure has created Mon Pays, a quiet, serene album that’s beautifully resounding start to finish without much more than a few instruments at a time. Even for Malian traditional music, Mon Pays is simplified.

Created in something of a response to the heavy conflict plaguing Mali, Vieux made an album centered on peace- the sound and themes promote this. It’s impossible to get upset when you’re listening to this album. It works magic on you. It puts you at ease.

“Diack So” opens the album. Group vocals call us together as the instruments find a calm but bumping rhythm. The song builds ever slightly with added percussion, remaining meditative for five minutes, only getting stale in the last minute.

“Doni Doni” is a speedier tune, driven by joyful bass and followed by solemn guitar. The two together creates an interesting sound that is far from dissonant, working, instead, together. Much of the instrumentation throughout the album succeeds at modeling partnership in unique ways, no doubt a conscious effort by Vieux and his bandmates.

A key track is “Yer Gando”, again with vocals playing off one another, some call and response, and the kora whispering in the background. “Peace” is also amazing. An instrumental, it rides coolly with kora and guitar. Slow but not dragging, the instruments emote surprisingly deeply for close to five minutes.

This album is heavy with baggage. Vieux plays some of his father’s songs, some traditionals that remember better days for his people, and overall Vieux seeks to shatter walls with his music. In a time when Mali is lost, Vieux creates an album that breathes tranquility, like a series of slow breaths, showing a better Way. Music really can alter moods, and Mon Pays sets a standard.

Generally, the songs feel a minute too long each. His brand of music doesn’t have any tempo changes and doesn’t have different choruses to recharge the listener, and the whole album is a lot to take in at once, but it’s certainly a good piece of art and a welcome addition to Malian musical recordings.

Bottom line: A peaceful, calming album that thematically promotes peace. A great listen.


0 # Restaurant Review 2014-03-12 15:56
When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added
I get several emails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Appreciate
0 # instrumentals beats 2014-04-30 00:01
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on guitar. Regards


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