Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré: desert blues to lift you up. Kiss Diouara
Old Farka Touré, “Flany Konaré” (Circuit Mondial)
One of the most satisfying musical developments of the 21st century has been the growing popularity in the West of African guitarists. Desert-blues artists such as Mdou Moctar, Bombino, Tinariwen, Imharan, Ali Farka Touré, et al. have made the leap to the American festival circuit, and our quasi-mainstream aerial landscape is much better for it. Son of the latter named player, the Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré perpetuates the paternal tradition of hypnotic excursions on the guitar which resemble six-string Ouroboroses of pleasure. You have to dig the repeat with nuanced embellishments if you want to dive into this rich sonic world created by nomadic Saharan musicians. It is worth absorbing these songs of defiance in the face of political oppression and other hardships faced by displaced Tuareg.
The magnificent “Flany Konaré” comes from Touré’s new album, Roots (which means “the roots”; it comes out on June 10). It instantly ensnares you with a cyclical, intricate guitar pattern that intertwines with the delicately beautiful, harpy timbres of a kora and the subtle ticks on a calabash (perhaps a calabash) percussion instrument. It’s mesmerizing and Touré’s warm, poised voice only adds to the comforting trance-like state induced by the song. “Flanary Konaré” projects a vulnerable yet deep soul, with lyrics telegraphing romantic devotion: the English translation of the first line sounds too formal, but there’s no denying its sincerity: “The love, the intense feeling, the affection , the attachment that I have towards you is priceless.
Many have called Touré “the Hendrix of the Sahara”, but if so, it’s the Hendrix of “Little Wing” and “One Rainy Wish”, not “Fire” or “Love or Confusion”. In general, however, the comparison is overstated, as Vieux’s touch is so alluring and fluid and contrasted with the wild distortions that marked Jimi’s work. The two musicians are virtuosos, of course, but in quite different languages. Touré doesn’t need to bask in the mirrored glory of Saint Jimi, but if the tag attracts more people to explore the former’s music, that’s cool.
Vieux Farka Touré performs on Tuesday May 10 and Wednesday May 11 at Jazz Alley.
Ben Von Wildenhaus, “The Best in the World (Parts 1 & 2)” (Globos)
Now based in Tacoma, former Federation X guitarist/vocalist Ben Von Wildenhaus recently released his fourth album as a frontman, best in the world. (It is available on cassette and downloadable from his own Globos label; funds from sales go to the homeless people of Tacoma.) Von Wildenhaus’s influence allowed him to enlist some of the most talented underground musicians in the Northwest. , including guitarist Bill Horist, Dionyso’s Arrington on clarinet, guitarist Ilyas Ahmed, and Diminished Men drummer and guitarist Dave Abramson and Simon Hennemann. The result is Von Wildenhaus’ most ambitious and outward-looking feature to date.
Composed of three long exploratory tracks, best in the world is a departure from the very good album based on songs from 2020, All in bloom. The parts on best in the world take an episodic approach, moving from old-world folk beauty to new-world avant-garde rock terror, haunting art rock and free-form electronic daydreams, and hitting many points in between with a non-discordant dream logic. I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming after the sophisticated, melodic rock and lounge jazz of All in bloombut I am impressed by the bold start that Von Wildenhaus has taken.
“World Best (Parts 1 & 2)” begins with Abramson’s oddly measured beats, Jude Webre’s taut bass, and Von Wildenhaus’ unconventional, searching guitar riffs, suggesting what the Sun City Girls could do if they continued after Charlie Gocher. the death. Billie Bloom’s vocals and Jon Sampson’s sax add ecstatic counterpoint while Dustin Lanker’s revealing synth solo of around five minutes elevates the track into a zone of astral wonder. (Side note: An entire album of Lanker’s synth inventions would be welcome.) What a long and strange journey this is, and I wish it was much longer.
Ben Von Wildenhaus performs tonight at the Royal Room. Claire Tucker & Bill Patton, Brian Straw and Aaron Semer open.