Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabate: “Fantasy” (Ali & Toumani, 2010)
I spent less time this year with “world” music than I usually get to, for a whole boring variety of reasons. It hurt a bit, really, to process so little of it, because I feel like music, more than anything else, is what keeps me connected to people around the globe, and not just in the mundane way the Internet literally connects me, but a real emotional connection, to people with whom I share little else in common.
I don’t know if the fact that it was one of the few non-Western albums I had a chance to spend a lot of time with had anything to do with it, but this wound up atop my albums list. There’s no science to putting those lists together. It just seemed right to have it there.
Ali and Toumani are two of Mali’s greatest modern artists. This is Ali Farka Touré’s very last recording. He was sick when he made it, and I think he knew. He pours himself into his guitar on every second of this album, and he’s not showy—he mainly provides a hypnotic, rock-solid bed for Diabate’s kora explorations. This is what Ali Farka Touré was: solid, a man people could count on and lean on.
He much of the end of his life as mayor of his hometown, Niafunké, where he spent his own money, earned from a successful performing and recording career, to improve services. It saddens me greatly that we’ll never hear new music from him again.
"Fantasy" is Ali and Toumani improvising on the spot. It’s beautiful in very uncomplicated way—I’m not sure how many Western musicians are even capable of achieving this kind of beauty. We have our own kinds of beauty for a reason, I suppose.