The final album from the great Malian desert blues guitarist finds Ali Farka Touré going back to his roots, with his distinctive guitar stylings backed by a small complement - usually two, but occasionally three - of ngoni, the native banjo-like instrument on which he first learned to play. The effect, on a piece like the opener, "Erdi", with the curious, cyclical swirl of guitar and ngoni anchored by a slow blues lope, suggests the odd sensation of wheels turning at different speeds on the same axle, while the addition of biting njarka violin adds an extra harsh edge. Elsewhere, the contributions of Pee Wee Ellis' sax and Little George Sueref's blues-harp bring a breathy, bluesy texture of more Western aspect to some tracks. The songs concern such everyday necessities as competition for pastureland, the fight against drought and the need to work, alongside pieces rooted in ancient spirit dances, voodoo ceremonies and circumcision rites, and others reflecting upon the positive changes in latter-day democratic Mali. Of which one must surely be the application of modern medical methods to those rites.
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