A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…

“Les Nuits” by Nightmares on Wax

I was dead, then alive.  Weeping, then laughing. – Rumi

Title: Les Nuits

Artist: Nightmares on Wax 

Album: Now is the time (2014)

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“Diferente” by Gotan Project

How does one combine Argentinean Tango and Electronica?

See below.


Title: Diferente / Artist: Gotan Project / Album: Lunatico, 2006

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“Trance Dance” by DJ Krush & Hamid Baroudi

Malcom Gladwell in his best-selling book “Outliers” proposes that it requires approximately 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of a craft.  I have no hesitation about whether DJ Krush has put in his time and filled out his timesheets as a DJ/Producer/Instrumentalist.

The more inspired we are, the simpler it is for us to get our point across:

A simple guitar loop, dusty drums, a turntable, a few synths and gorgeous vocals from Algerian singer Hamid Baroudi are the ingredients in this masterpiece.

From Japan with love.

“Voce Vai Ver” by Joao Gilberto

Joao Gilberto

Bossa is often described as music that “fills the heart”.  On Voce Vai Ver, Joao Gilberto is able to undertake this task armed with just his voice and a guitar.  In fact he does so on the entire Voz e Violao album, although this is by no means a surprising feat from an artist with a catalog that’s littered with “classics”.

You don’t need to understand a single word of Portuguese to figure out that this song is about heartbreak.  The pain is apparent in Joao’s tone and expressed in every guitar lick.  The lyrics tell a tale of passion, unrequited love and eventually deep regret: the classic romantic tragedy.

Title: Voce Vai Ver / Artist: Joao Gilberto /Album: Joao Voz e Violao, 2000

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“In my Head” by Psapp

I’ve used to be a fan of the TV show “Nip Tuck” because of its outrageous story lines, its Miami setting and its incredible soundtrack.  “In my head” is from a Nip Tuck episode in the second season of the show.  It took me a few weeks of research to finally track down the song but it was definitely worth the effort.  

Psapp is most famous for having produced the theme song for “Grey’s Anatomy”.

“In my head” has the classic Psapp sound which consists of plucky violins, guitars, lavish electro-pop melodies and sultry vocals.  The song was released on the band’s “Early Cats and Tracks” EP which was made available exclusively for digital download in 2006.

The most interesting thing about Psapp is that they are credited for having invented a new musical style known as “Toytronica” which is a type of electronica that involves using Toy instruments. The band uses toy guitars and flutes as well as real ones.


Title: Always in my Head / Artist: Psapp / Album: Early Cats and Tracks, 2006

“Paulette” by Balla et ses Balladins

“Balla est ses Balladins” was Guinea’s first major musical group of the post colonial era.  Like many of their West African contemporaries, they were sponsored by their country’s government in the 1960s as a means of promoting culture through art in a newly independent country.

The band’s leader Balla Onivogui died in March 2011 at the age of 75, before J Cole brought his music back to life a couple of months later with his summer hit “Can’t Get Enough”, which extensively samples vocals and guitar riffs from “Paulette”.

Although “Paulette” sticks to its African roots by employing almost exclusively native instruments, you can feel a distinctively Cuban influence in its cadence, vocal arrangements and guitar work.


Title: Paulette / Artist: Balla et ses Balladins / Album: Objectif Perfection, 1980

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