Fondo - Vieux Farka Toure

Six Degrees

Fondo is only Vieux Farka Toure's second release but it already has the body and polish of a classic. Pardon the pun but I was also fond o' his first album which blended other global elements like reggae into the predominantly acoustic Malian blues, in essence, marking Vieux's own voice as influenced by but distinctly different from his father's. Since that self-titled recording the 28 year old has been on the road (or 'fondo') touring and sharpening his image and sound. On the new disc, Vieux plugs in his Telecaster to create waves of glorious six string tonality that shimmer like the sub Sahara heat. 'Fafa' opens the eleven tracks with a sharp attack of twangy, noodling guitar goodness (reprised acoustically bathed in reverb at disc's end). It's surf music from a land where the sand never ends. Vieux's voice is crisp and biting, a perfect, melodic counterpoint to his axe. Surprisingly, in a recent interview, Vieux cited Phil Collins, Bryan Adams and 50 Cent among artists he likes to listen to. It always astonishes me that the West sends out pap for the masses and it's resulting influence comes back from halfway round the world as a jewel of creativity and individuality.