So just why are you into Malian music anyway?

Glad you asked. The obsession began around eight years ago when I strolled into the Hampshire College library one evening, as was my wont, after a somewhat reverse circle-jerk-like Philosophy of Time class, and Alice-in-wonderlandly fell into the music section: hundreds of CDs, and most of them really fucking weird. Like, I’m talking Karlheinz Stockhausen kind of excellent weird: there wast discovert Steve Reich, Sergei Prokofiev, Balian jegogs, and, at last, les griots du Mali.

Super Onze

Listening to this music is like being lost in a tornado. Feelings of joy and sadness, praise and lament, wrap me in ecstasy…everything great about American music in its purest form: rap, blues, jazz, rock, all together flowing from these clattering ngonis and pounding calabashes. I bought it off itunes last Friday and have been listening to it all day long ever since, walking the streets and feeling as if I’m about to faint and spin up inside a whirlwind, my eyes closed, breathing through my nose, smiling. Give one of their music videos a chance: the dance moves alone look as though they’d work in any context.


I was just listening to some fine piano music written by my friend Joe Cough and it made me think of how I’d never gotten around to writing a review of one of my absolute favorite albums, one I’ve been coming back to again and again for many years now.

The Pow Pow Malian Boubou

Second from the left.

My wife snapped this one with her phone, at my desperate command, as we were navigating the rigors of Canal Street in a medium-sized red vehicle of modern make manufactured by the robots of Honda Soichiro, one that was thankfully in possession of an automatic transmission, as the constant slow stop-and-go nature of Friday afternoon Manhattan would have worn out my right arm and my left foot long before we made it out of the city, had I been forced to drive the standard left back in Maine.

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