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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Who’d have thought it would ever come to this? After all the bile I’ve been dripping recently I am reduced to listing some current mp3 player listening, music being the only thing that calms me down and doesn’t involve passing out.

In no particular order.

1) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mustt Mustt. There must be as many Nusrat albums as there are Maigret albums, and ideally I’d like to own them all. Jeff Buckley called Nusrat ‘my Elvis’. Nusrat always reminds me of Slovenian prankster Slavoj Žižek’s line about good and bad fundamentalists: good ones are people like Amish, who just get on with it, whereas bad ones take out their bad faith on other people by crashing planes into buildings etc. As a Sufi praise-singer in a state of apparently permanent religious ecstasy, with his twenty minute yodelling sessions, Nusrat’s one of the fundamentalist good guys. He also spends five minutes or so on one track here repeating what sounds like the word ‘Derrida’. Jackie and Nusrat, they were like that, I tell you.

2) Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba, Segu Blue. You may already know this guy’s ngoni playing from Ali Farka Touré’s last album, Savane, with its almost flamenco-like ripples and twangs, but there’s nothing of the second-string or subs’ bench about his first solo album. That read like something from the Observer Music Monthly, didn’t it. Sorry about that. The singing’s great and the sleeve notes are marvellous too.

3) Tinariwen, Amin Iman: Water is Life. These guys’ guitar licks sound to me like tumbleweed snagged on barbed wire. Plus they’re all veterans of the nomad uprising in Northern Mali. Don’t mess with Tinariwen. Love that ululation thing they do too. I wish I could join the group. I could be their Bez and just hop around the stage aimlessly. And feed the camels. I could feed the camels too.

4) Khaled, Best of the Early Years. Lifetime achievement award winner from the Pan-Maghrebi moustache wearer’s guild. And the music ain’t bad either.

5) Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope. Does Regina Spektor play piano side-saddle, like Tori Amos? I hope not, for the sake of her hips. I like the quasi-glossolalic thing she does sometimes, though when the old tramp outside the 24 hour shop does it too it loses its charm ever so slightly, for some reason.

6) Amadou et Mariam, Dimanche à Bamako. I owe this pair for the discovery that someone from Burkina Faso is a ‘Burkinabé’. This record makes me do my African bum dance, every time.

7) Manu Chao, Clandestino. He produced no. 6, and having started with Esperanza, I’ve now worked my way back to this one. Music for reading Under the Volcano to, with a Zapatista flag on the wall.

8) Souad Massi, Deb. An Algerian Chrissie Hynde in a sweater. Tasty.

9) Steve Reich/Ligeti/The Aka Pygmies, African Rhythms. This has a couple of late Ligeti études not on the earlier Sony disc. The pygmies are great too, with their honking nose flutes and elaborate canons. I can’t bring myself to listen to the Steve Reich tracks though, so no comment there. Somebody tell me what I’m missing.

10) Rufus Wainwright, Poses. Mainly for the cover version of his dad’s tune ‘One Man Guy’. It strikes me, though, that even without a gay subtext there’s a big opportunity going missing in the words to the chorus. They are: ‘One man guy a one man guy /Only kind of guy to be /I'm a one man guy /I'm a one man guy /I'm a one man guy is me.’ The last line should be ‘And the one man’s guy is me’, making it clear that the guy is himself. No? I think so.

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