Sibiri Samaké's Trance-Like Magic

Dambe Foli: Bamana Hunters Music

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Sibiri Samaké is a man who wears many headdresses. In his native Mali he is known as a griot, a traditional healer, a son of nobility, a hunter, and offspring of a musical family. Hunting societies confer great status in Mali, but Samaké would have attracted notice for his music if nothing else. He brings to bear all of his influences on this, his second album. Call it where tradition meets the present. You will hear hints of African blues and of Western drum and bass records, but mainly you will hear Samaké’s pastiche homage to his roots. There is, first of all, the instrumentation–a few which could be plugged in, but mostly assorted wooden stringed instruments, scrappers, and shakers. The album is more than 66 minutes long, yet it contains just four tracks. On each, Samaké uses the instruments to evoke the natural world and his voice to command the center around which band mates and backing vocalists rally. His leads set the table for call-and-response singing, but of the sort that conjures a shaman leading supplicants. His voice is strong and bold; those that respond are often short syllables, moans, and vocalizations. The pacing is deliberate and chant-like, as if Samaké is conducting a healing ceremony.

This one may take some getting used to for Westerners whose bodies and psyches do the double-time boogie, but patience is rewarded for those who surrender and go with the flow. It’s the sort of album that’s sublime for intent listening or for background ambience. But if you’re in the midst of a busy task and start playing this one, don’t be surprised if you drift away and the task lies undone. --Rob Weir   

Here's a short (for Samaké) YouTube clip that will give you an idea of style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdHdLJIXjAY 

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