The genre title "world music" is a limp, sad stab at unknown sonic terrain. It's just plain bogus that what we generally call pop (stuff made primarily by and for the United States and U.K.) is rigorously sub-classified (i.e. rock, hip-hop, country, R&B, punk), while sounds recorded elsewhere are often tossed into the foggy, non-descript "world" bin. Granted, some contemporary global fusion contains so many disparate ingredients that "world" is the only logical shorthand, but the issue remains: The label is too loose; its vagaries jeopardize open ears.
It is possible, however, for non-Brits/Yankees to transcend categorical nowheresville (think of Bob Marley, for example, the reason reggae isn't rotting in "world" purgatory right now). Though we Americans don't exactly brim with global curiosity, we are capable of international romance. Once we know you, we want to know more about you; once we love you, we celebrate your music as wonderfully distinct. Unlike anything else in the world.
Malian duo Amadou and Mariam's American popularity is ballooning, and thus, the pair is likely to transcend the pesky "world" handle. The blind West African husband-and-wife group offers up eclectic African pop capable of transforming unsuspecting English-speaking audiences into dancing throngs of joy. A&M integrate glossy-sweet, ear-tickling electric blues guitar, African folk rhythms played on instruments both ancient and modern, Western pop, Cuban rumbas and exuberant harmonies (sung primarily in French and their native Bambara).
The pair met 30 years ago at The Institute for Young Blind People in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and they've been making music together since. Though they've been pop stars in France and West Africa for more than a decade, their first North American break came in 2005 with the Manu... More >>>