Khruangbin and Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré have released their highly-anticipated collaborative album Ali honoring Vieux’s late father, the great Ali Farka Touré, on Dead Oceans in partnership with Night Time Stories Ltd. Together, says BBC, “they’ve concocted a striking and stylish tribute album that honours Ali’s music while spinning it off in unexpected new directions.”
Also out now is a video for the song “Diarabi,” which captures the adventurous sentiment of the album while the quartet updates Ali’s original with pronounced drums, resulting in a sound rooted in R&B yet mysteriously distant. The album is a testament to what happens when creativity is approached through open arms and open hearts. “To me, music is magic, it is spontaneous, it is the energy between people,” Vieux says. “I think Khruangbin understands this very well.” Watch the “Diarabi” video here:
The video was shot in the capital and largest city of Mali, Bamako, which provides rich colors and landscapes as a backdrop as viewers follow the lovers meeting secretly away from prying eyes. Additionally, the visual offers an easter egg – a statue of Ali Farka Touré, the grandmaster guitarist himself.
Directed by French visual artist Kopeto (Nike Football, Canon France) and produced by Louise van Britsom, the “Diarabi” visual in the pair’s words, “Is an unfortunate universal story. We wanted to capture the realities of people who date outside of their (perceived) community. By doing so they become a target…”
“For me it was nice to see Bamako in this new way,” continues Louise. “As a kid I had imagined what it would have looked like if my mom never came to the Netherlands and instead had me over there. What would I have been doing in my teens? Who would I have met? With whom would I have fallen in love? The kid fantasies all flooded back as we went through the story of the lovers.”
Already Ali has been highlighted everywhere from The New York Times and NPR(“labyrinthine fusion of dub, blues and Malian grooves,”), to GQ who says “there’s a placelessness to the band Khruangbin that, counterintuitively, gives them their gravity.”
Ali’s legacy and impact are hard to overstate. Merging his much-loved traditional Malian musical styles with distinct elements of the blues, singing in the local languages of Songhay, Tamasheq, Fulfulde and Bambara. The result was the creation of a groundbreaking new genre, now well known as the ‘desert blues’, earning him 3 Grammy awards, widespread reverence and the nickname of the ‘African John Lee Hooker.’ And there were no better musicians to take on the challenge than Vieux and Khruangbin as with each new project both broaden their horizons, embrace new challenges and further entrench their shared reputation as some of the world’s most innovative musicians.
“As a passionate champion for the people of Mali and The Sahel, Vieux founded the charity Amahrec Sahel in 2012. As part of Amahrec Sahel’s mission to support humanitarian reconstruction and culture, the charity has provided school supplies for children, supported an orphanage in Bamako and provided musical instruments for young musicians in Mali. Vieux is also the director of The Ali Farka Touré Foundation, an international organization dedicated to the preservation of Ali’s legacy and the cultural growth of Mali.
This past June, Vieux released his new album Les Racines in which he masterfully returns to the deep roots of the Desert Blues music that his father introduced to the world and writes of his country’s overlapping security, political, and humanitarian crises. With each new project Vieux broadens his horizons, embraces new challenges and further entrenches his reputation as one of the world’s most talented and innovative musicians. In February, Khruangbin released their second collaborative EP with soul singer Leon Bridges, the sultry, chart-topping Texas Moon, which garnered widespread critical acclaim and pushed the boundaries of R&B sound.
Recently the pairing played a sold-out show in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on one of the hottest days of the year as noted by Vanity Fair, and praised by Variety in a live review. There will be more live shows and appearances from the pairing this fall at festivals, and shows in Denver, Las Vegas, Mesa and Santa Fe.