You can't fault the enthusiasm and intuition of the remixers.
Ilka Schlockermann 2007-11-08
Desert blues gets an electronic make-over. Purists will no doubt hate this album. Come to that, what would the late Ali Farka Touré, the king of desert blues as well as the father of the album's culprit, say about this?
Remixed: UFOs Over Bamako includes 11 remixes of six tracks, the originals of which can be found on Vieux Farka Touré’s self-titled debut album which was released in February 2007. The idea came from Vieux’s American producers who apart from traditional Malian desert blues obviously love listening to electronica, techno and ambient music. Vieux, only his mid-20s himself, was thrilled by the results and admits to preferring the remix album to the original.
When it comes to remixes big names are usually hired but in this case the remixers are on the whole lesser-known, apart from possibly trance/electronic DJ, Fabian Alsultany and Algerian DJ, Cheb I Sabbah.
Brooklyn-based bass player and remixer Yossi Fine turns "Ma Hine Cocore" into a dubby bass-heavy track and one of the album's highlights, whilst Indian percussionist/ producer Karsh Kale gives it a more atmospheric sound. Drummer/ DJ/ producer Chris Annibell adds a funky bassline reminiscent of vintage Stevie Wonder to "Wosoubor"; Canadian group Eccodek goes for a downtempo electronica treatment. "Sangare" is funky, jazzy and laid-back in the hands of Romanian-born Brooklyn resident DJ Center, with Nickodemus turning it into a funky Afrobeat-influenced track.
"Ana" is remixed three times. Captain Planet's mix is seriously funky, with talking drums and horns and Hisboyelroy, who won a remix contest to be included, provides a more ambient version. Unfortunately, things go wrong with the Goonda Tribal Dub remix of the same track which sounds dated.
Listening to the album as a whole makes everything appear a little samey after a while, but in smaller doses you realize that this CD is packed with some great ideas. You can't fault the enthusiasm and intuition of the remixers. The original versions, whilst pretty much taken apart, were approached with respect and many of the best parts of the originals are accentuated by the remixes.
No doubt it'll end up in many DJ bags and fill dancefloors at trendy clubs and bars in Brooklyn to Shoreditch and beyond. If it takes a remix album like this one to slowly open novices' ears to African sounds then the mission is accomplished.