Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mamani Keita & Marc Minelli

  • Electro Bamako [Palm, 2003] A-

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Electro Bamako [Palm, 2003]
When white Parisians meddle in the music of African Francophones, I shudder. I recall Salif Keita's fused keybs, Angelique Kidjo's dull disco, Lokua Kanza studying le jazz in la France, sideburned sidemen and crotch-pumping yť-yť girls anonymous to me. Minelli is an obscure alt-pop lifer with no background in Malian music. He'd barely met Salif's identically surnamed former backup singer when a mutual acquaintance importuned him to build her the sampled jazz-lounge-reggae-jungle-bambara-soundtrack settings here. Yet the mesh is blessed whether it aspires to beatwise pastiche or tuneful corn about aiding les enfants. Neither half would mean much without the other. As it is, however, Minelli could be a Diabate, and Keita sounds like she's spent her life strolling the Boulevard Saint-Germain. I wonder whether they've ever tried going to bed. If I were them I'd be scared. A-