Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lost in Mali [Riverboat, 2015]
This showcase of 13 previously uncollected Malian artists risks recording them fresh rather than compiling unknown gems. Yet the duds are rare, and in my count include an opener whose sweetness you may well take to. Although several tracks from Ali Farka Toure's desert hometown of Niafunke make the cut, Tuaregs and Saharan guitar are missed--the winner I imagined was a camel-drivers' shout turned out to be a hunters' call-and-response from the Wassoulou woods in Mali's deep south. Just goes to show that Mali is a big place. There's even a reggae with some jam--from cosmopolitan Bamako, naturally. Reggae signifies because, like the Jamaica of the 70s, this impoverished nation has learned to exploit its musical riches as export and tourist attraction. The puritan murderers who invaded Bamako's Radisson November 20 thought that was disgusting. A-