Photo credit: Kiss Diouara
Acclaimed Malian artist Vieux Farka Touré is premiering the new single “Flany Konare” from his forthcoming album Les Racines, out on World Circuit Records on June 10. Of the track, Vieux says, “‘Flany Konare’ is a love song in the purest and most direct sense. It is about the tenderness and affection between lovers, the love that fuels everything else in life. It is a reminder to make time for love and to give your respect to love, for without it everything else we do loses its meaning.” The single is accompanied by a kaleidoscopic new video created by U.K.-based animators Double Vision and Malian photographer Kiss Diouara.
Vieux is known as the “Hendrix of the Sahara” and is the son of the late “Desert Blues” pioneer Ali Farka Touré; Les Racines is Touré’s debut album on the label and his first since 2017. The title, which translates as “the roots,” represents a deep reconnection with the Songhai music of Northern Mali known as “Desert Blues,” made famous by his father via his own World Circuit releases decades earlier. Listen to the album’s previous single “Gabou Ni Tie,” which includes guitar from Amadou Bagayoko of Amadou & Mariam, and preorder Les Racines HERE.
The son of the late Ali Farka Touré, acclaimed as the finest guitarist Africa has ever produced, Vieux spent two years making Les Racines but the album had been gestating in his mind even longer. “I’ve had a desire to do a more traditional album for a long, long time. It’s important to me and to Malian people that we stay connected to our roots and our history,” Vieux explains. The lockdowns caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, which prevented him from touring, were turned to his advantage as he used the time to craft the most profound statement of his career to date.
Les Racines is Vieux’s sixth solo album in a recording career that began in 2006 and which has taken in audacious collaborations with the likes of Dave Matthews and the jazz guitarist John Scofield, an album with the American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin, and two records with the Israeli artist Idan Raichel as The Touré-Raichel Collective. “Early in my career people asked why I wasn’t just following my father. But it was important for me to establish my own identity,” Vieux says. “Now people know what I can do, I can return to those roots with pride and I hope a certain authority.”
Recorded in Bamako in Vieux’s home studio, the timeless grooves of the album are steeped in the traditional music of West Africa. But the fire of Vieux’s guitar playing and the urgency of the messages in his songs add an entirely contemporary relevance. “We are nothing if we abandon respect for the past,” Vieux notes. “But we can also marry modernity with the strength of our traditions.”
The ten songs, all original compositions, address a range of topics, traditional and contemporary. “In Mali many people are illiterate and music is the main way of transmitting information and knowledge,” Vieux explains. “My father fought for peace and as artists we have an obligation to educate about the problems facing our country and to rally people and shepherd them towards reason.”
“Returning to the roots of this music is a new departure for me and I’ve never spent so long or worked so hard on an album,” Vieux says. “I knew it had to be deep and durable and powerful and so I took a lot of time to reflect on how to do it and put it together.”
LES RACINES TRACKLISTING:
1. Gabou Ni Tie
2. Ngala Kaourene
3. Les Racines
4. Be Together
8. Flany Konare
10. Ndiehene Direne