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Gagner L'Argent Français


In Mali, it is customary that those who have the royal name of "Keita" are banned from singing or playing an instrument. Fortunately, there are some exceptions. Mamani Keita, who used to be a back-up singer for another Keita outcast (Salif), is set to become one of the main ambassadors of modern African music. Gagner l'Argent Français (trans. "To earn French money"), her third album, verging on rock, is her most electric to date. The one where she is the most daring. It highlights a strong, passionate and independent personality as well as a rebellious voice in which her Mandinke heritage is unleashed by the inventive and eclectic sonic environment created by Nicolas Repac, the guitarist and arranger famous for his work with long-time collaborator Arthur H. Mamani crafted the songs for Gagner l'Argent Français, to which the guitarist Djeli Moussa Kouyaté brought the finishing touches. The tracks were then subjected to the intricate sonic editing of Nicolas Repac's poetic imagination. Some of them rely on a rock foundation with a tapestry of guitars and a binary rhythm. Others transport us into dub's hypnotic round or the hard-hitting paraphrase of Afro-beat. The traditional Mandinke instruments -- ngoni, kora, monocorde -- are meshed with globalized samples, klezmer clarinet, Chinese lute and classical strings. In the end, it could sound like one of those exotic gardens where the magnolias cast a shadow over the ferns, where the cactus pisses off the rhododendron, where confusion is king. But there is nothing but harmony, respect and adventure with a horizon that keeps moving as the songs progress, suspension bridges that bring us from one world to the next without even a hint of turbulence, from the savannah to a marvelous used record store, from a village chant to an old 1930's tune. It is within this surprising, audacious, unorthodox yet coherent environment that Mamani Keita proudly and fiercely asserts an independence that she has dearly earned.