Various - Songs for the North Country (4 stars)

Acoustic sounds and atmospheric field recordings benefits Mali musicians

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Various - Songs for the North Country

(Sahel Sounds)

Earlier this year, the north of Mali was taken over by armed fundamentalists who imposed an extreme form of Sharia law that bans music. Proceeds from this download-only compilation go straight to the musicians, all directly affected, either as residents or refugees.

Sahel Sounds is best known for the astonishing Music From Saharan Cellphones collections, but Songs focuses on acoustic sounds, with atmospheric field recordings of urban and desert life woven amongst the reflective melodies, deftly plucked guitars and tough yet nimble calabash rhythms. All this is bookended with two gorgeous ta-kha-nit flute pieces, evoking the brousse (or bush) that is home to the Tuareg nomads.

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