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Tony Hillier

Marvellous Malian musicians have emerged from challenging backgrounds to woo the world in the past few decades. The list would be incomplete without husband-wife team Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia, who have overcome blindness to become one of music’s most sought-after duos, featuring at the opening ceremonies of two soccer world cups and touring with U2 and Coldplay. With a taste in music formulated on James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd records as much as traditional heritage, they’ve cultivated a hybrid sound with wide appeal. La Confusion edges them closer to the mainstream. Funky in rhythm and laden with pop hooks, it hardly matters that the album is delivered in Bambara and French. The influence of Salif Keita, under whom guitarist Bagayoko served his apprenticeship in the legendary Les Ambassadeurs, shows in the use of synthesiser washes and layered instrumentation. Doumbia drives the opening Bofou Safou at a fast pace, given the title is a nickname accorded to young men who would rather dance than work. Soprano sax and flute add a jazzy dimension between verses in Filaou Bessame. Doumbia is seductive in the stripped-back Mokou Mokou. Bagayoko mesmerises in Massa Allah over a hypnotic guitar riff. Despite Gallic titles, Ta Promesse, Femmes du Monde and C’est Chaud have a Malian lilt.

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Marvellous Malian musicians have emerged from challenging backgrounds to woo the world in the past few decades. The list would be incomplete without husband-wife team Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia, who have overcome blindness to become one of music’s most sought-after duos, featuring at the opening ceremonies of two soccer world cups and touring with U2 and Coldplay. With a taste in music formulated on James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd records as much as traditional heritage, they’ve cultivated a hybrid sound with wide appeal. La Confusion edges them closer to the mainstream. Funky in rhythm and laden with pop hooks, it hardly matters that the album is delivered in Bambara and French. The influence of Salif Keita, under whom guitarist Bagayoko served his apprenticeship in the legendary Les Ambassadeurs, shows in the use of synthesiser washes and layered instrumentation. Doumbia drives the opening Bofou Safou at a fast pace, given the title is a nickname accorded to young men who would rather dance than work. Soprano sax and flute add a jazzy dimension between verses in Filaou Bessame. Doumbia is seductive in the stripped-back Mokou Mokou. Bagayoko mesmerises in Massa Allah over a hypnotic guitar riff. Despite Gallic titles, Ta Promesse, Femmes du Monde and C’est Chaud have a Malian lilt.

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