The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, July 3, 2009, Music

Vieux Farka Touré

Fondo (Six Degrees)

Dedication to Ali Farka Touré, Mali-to-Mississippi guitar whisperer, again stamps written coda to a musical séance by his six-string spawn, Boureima "Vieux" Farka Touré. Where the late-twentysomething's (Vieux = old man) eponymous debut played tribute to the fallen all-time blues elder through a traditionally minded spell of originals and oeuvre nods to his father, Fondo's wholly original hybrid of desert blues and tropical syncopation wafts sonic smoke rings around a steel backbone. The Malian way, a thick cluster of electric jangle overlaid by cascading bee-sting leads, remains one of the most hypnotic byways of global axe worship. "Fafa" opens with a shamanic drone, but "Sarama" agitates a tsunami beat on a simple bass pulse crowned by Touré's pin cushion picking. "Walé" tick tacks a chant led by Ali Farka vox channeler Afel Bocoum, while "Slow Jam" floats above an album devoted to them, and "Mali" plows guitar, but one-drop "Diaraby Magni," acoustic tidal pool "Paradise," and the steady drip of "Fafa (Reprise)" at the finish, not to mention Touré making mincemeat out of "Chérie Lé," seal in Fondo with teapot fermentation. "Farka" was a family nickname for the stubborn "donkey" of the clan, and although Vieux Farka Touré demonstrates modern elasticity, his standard of tradition kicks equally hard.


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