If you pick up a copy of Diario Mali, you’ll find that it’s a track listing of ten calm and stimulating duets weaving beautifully between the virtuosity of a piano and the kora. May I say parenthetically that I cried hysterically while listening to the album? This, in my opinion, owed to what constituted its purposeful metre and primal simplicity.
Of key note is that the kora is light in intensity and as such, serves only to add timbre to pieces otherwise dominated by Einaudi. In spite of that, here’s whats this Mali Diary is all about:
It is Laissez Moi en Paix; an elegant but plaintive tune evoking a certain kind of past. I imagined the song having to do with a parting or a haunting farewell. The piece begins with a gentle murmur as the kora emerges with a sensuous bass line that is shortly after joined by the steady and disciplined structure of the piano.
Attuning to the similitude of a stream, Entre Nous (Between Us) flows quite freely with its traceries and intricacies moving about pianissimo. Depth is built only in the form of some little open textures contrasting the repeated moments and thus giving the piece an impression of muffled search lines weaving between two people.
It is the touching modulation that is upheld through Soutoukou – a melody with a certain loft that elevates it merely a state above somberness. Being one of the pieces that made me sob the most, Soutoukou seems to me to have an elegiac quality that ponders the mystery of relationships.
For a piece that fulfills itself both musically and emotionally, Chanson D’amour is one that begins with the tease of longing and ends, eight point eleven minutes later, in what love should be; tranquil, harmonious and beautiful. The melody here floats with a tender unwavering legato and the kora is it that gives this piece such a handsome edge.
To some extent, I think that Chameaux carries in its form some snippets of Ravel. It wavers giddily with an impression more ritualistic than musical; from the piece’s recurrent theme, its fixed formation and movement of chords. Nonetheless, the coexistence of these characteristics bares some rather affecting mood music.
I have a strong flavour to Ma Mère; the piece is neither festive nor celebratory but there seems to be in it a firm resolve in the way it was arranged. Where the piano creates an intimacy, the kora stands out a little better with a certain magnetic charm that cradles its flowy rhythm.
Through much of the album, Niger Blues is a pleasant surprise. The piece breaks into new territory with a melody that rises expansively. The kora’s harmonic inflections are at first reticent after which it becomes impressionistic in its evocation of a colour and a mood so subtle yet telling.
It is Mali Sajio which begins with a sweet aesthetic twist that does not give away the piece’s actual undercurrents; the best of it is yet to come. One only has to listen to a creation that weaves together an image and a winding melody in a flow that is at once beautiful and intriguing.
Diario Mali is not a really outstanding album. Its orchestration is simple but it lacks the ingredients that make an album memorable. It may have also been blighted by the fact that the kora stands lowly in the background but perhaps that was Ludovico’s point.
As I may have mentioned a couple of times, the tracks are rousing and so the album worth listening to.