'Voyageur' bundles an impressive collection of unreleased Ali Farka Touré recordings

‘Voyageur’, the new album from the legendary African guitarist and singer Ali Farka Touré has been released. It is the first release of unheard Touré material since 2010’s posthumous Grammy-winning ‘Ali & Toumani’, and features a collection of gems captured at various points in Ali’s illustrious career. Produced by World Circuit’s Nick Gold with Ali’s son Vieux Farka Touré, ‘Voyageur’ reaffirms Ali’s status as a globally revered legend of African music.

Captured spontaneously over the course of 15 years, on the road and in the studio between sessions for other albums, the songs on ‘Voyageur’ were all of immense personal importance to Ali. They reflect his passionate commitment to the creativity and cultural diversity of his homeland, and a life spent in motion, as a traveller – a Voyageur – between the desert stages of Timbuktu, studios of West Hollywood, the concert halls of London and Tokyo, and tiny villages strung out on the Malian riverside, where Ali was – of course – known by everyone.  

No African musician has made an impact at home and on the international imagination like the great spiritual father of the Desert Blues, Ali Farka Touré. From Grammy-winning collaborations with Ry Cooder and kora maestro Toumani Diabaté to gritty lo-fi recordings made in his remote home village, Ali’s inimitable voice and hypnotic guitar playing communicates with listeners with an authority that transcends boundaries of markets, fashions and genres. Ali more than lived up to his music: he was an imposing, even regal figure, with a magnificent smile, an unassailable confidence and a mischievous sense of humour. Sixteen years on from his death, Ali remains a towering figure, one of a handful of great talents – alongside Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti – whose music feels perennially vital and relevant, whose charisma burns as brightly after their passing as it did in life.  

From pared back, mesmeric grooves in Ali’s signature Sonrhaï style to anthemic fishermen’s choruses, pulsing hunters’ rhythms and an African “noise band” of reverb-laden guitars and lutes (‘Kombo Galia’), ‘Voyageur’ showcases a secret store of songs which Ali built up through his long and varied career, shedding new light on an extraordinary and enigmatic talent.  

These songs, part of what producer Nick Gold describes as a “precious, private archive”, were revealed by Ali sparingly, at times apparently grudgingly to Gold over a period of 25 years. And Ali knew exactly what he was doing: that by feeding these songs gradually through to Gold they would one-day, God willing, reach a global audience; though even then Ali liked to keep things on a knife-edge. Several of these songs were aired completely spontaneously between takes on other songs. Thankfully the tapes were rolling, or much of the music on this marvellous album might never have been heard. 

Ali Farka touré’s mesmerizing new collection of previously unreleased songs is now available HERE.

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