Album Review: Mali Overdrive, by Anansy Cissé

by ptinti


A review of Mali Overdrive, the debut international release by Anansy Cisse, a talented musician from northern Mali whose heavily distorted guitar and flawless composition offer one of the more original recordings out of West Africa in recent years.

Though music from northern Mali has been finding its way to Bamako’s recording studios for decades, there has been a veritable boom in albums by northern Malians for foreign consumption over the last two years.

The uptick in international releases by artists from Mali’s north may in part be a product of the Islamist militants takeover of northern Mali in 2012. It was during that ugly period in Mali’s history that a patchwork of jihadist groups took the unthinkable step of banning music throughout much of the area under their control.

Musicians whose livelihoods depended on live gigs at bars, nightclubs, weddings, and baptisms fled the area en masse. Some sought refuge abroad. Others found themselves in Bamako, relying on the hospitality of friends, family, and strangers to get by. The exodus from northern Mali also brought untold artists closer to the world music pipelines that pass through West African capitals such as Bamako.

One such artist is Anansy Cissé, a guitarist from the region of Timbuktu. According to the press release accompanying his debut international release,Mali Overdrive, Cissé was forced to dismantle the recording studio he ran in Diré following the invasion of Islamist militants.

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