Damon Albarn's Mali Music

Before Gorillaz, before The Good, The Bad and The Queen, there was Mali Music:"It was quite a random thing, " he says, picking up the story. "I was approached by Oxfam to go to Mali as their ambassador and get involved in their various initiatives out there. But I felt that was missing the point of using me, a musician."

"I'm not really one of those people who believes that if you're a musician you can just leave that behind and start getting into politics," he explains. "So I went back to them and said that I'd rather go and meet the musicians and see if there is some kind of common link that I could develop something from."
Oxfam set up chances for Albarn to meet and play with Malian musicians and the experience worked. "I just listened and talked and occasionally joined in with my melodica," he says, sounding rather proud.

"I played it on the last few albums I've made and it's just become my instrument of choice. In the context of Mali music it worked really well. It's a very simple instrument and it sonically fits in, for some reason."
Armed with a DAT tape, he recorded his collaborations in Mali and returned to his London studio with over 40 hours of music. "I spent two years figuring out how I could turn it into something that would satisfy me as a musician but also make some kind of cross-cultural link," he says.

1. Spoons
2. Bamako City
3. Le Relax
4. Nabintoue Diakite (Live)
5. Makelekele
6. Djembe
7. Tennesse Hotel
8. Niger
9. 4am At Toumani's
10. Institut National Des Arts
11. Kela Village
12. Griot Village
13. Le Hogon
14. Sunset Coming On
15. Ko Kan Ko Sata Doumbia On River
16. Les Ecros