When Malian songwriter and guitarist Sidi Touré first emerged on the international scene in 2011, he was regularly compared to Ali Farka Touré, his countryman and predecessor. There was a similarity in means, sound and even surnames, and both musicians hail from the Songhaï region of Northern Mali. The signature blues-inflected guitar and plaintive vocal melisma of Songhaï folk music carries melodic and repertory characteristics that extend from Ibrahim Dicko—Touré’s mentor—to Ali Fakra Touré’s pioneering work. Over the course of two recordings—last year’s critically-lauded Koïma and his revelatory debut Sahel Folk—and attention from NPR, SPIN and Pitchfork, among others, Touré’s musical identity has fully come into its own.
Plus support from GRUMBLING FUR
Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker are long time friends and collaborators. Both artists are veterans of the UK experimental underground: O’Sullivan as a member of Guapo, Ulver, and Aethenor (with Stephen O’Malley), and Tucker with imbogodom and as an eclectic (read: Yeti) solo artist. On their newest album as Grumbling Fur, Glynnaestra, they have crafted an avant-pop album assembled as one would a collage. This structural foundation is built up via an eclectic array of instruments, both acoustic and modified, to pulsating electronic sounds. Add to this mix the pair’s entirely modern shamanistic meta-narratives, and the result is a contemporary psychedelic pop delight. Grumbling Fur’s world is an innovative one, where every sound contains its own unique story, and is driven by the overarching melody and harmony. O’Sullivan and Tucker write pop songs for the sophisticated palate.
As their history attests, this is a group unbound from the restrictions of traditionalism and unafraid to shed the pretence of pure abstraction. There’s a tradition of subterranean Englishness at play, harking back to This Heat’s Deceit and Eno’s Another Green World. In their first fully realised album as a duo, the process and texture ripple with a kind of electro-gnosis. Glynnaestra herself (an archaic goddess divined by Tucker and O’Sullivan) presides over the record, transcendent and sphinx like: an apt muse for an album of such lovely and powerful music.