Songhoy Blues

October 24, 2017 - 8:00pm

“’Songhoy Blues’ desert R&B is incredibly rousing and intense…conjuring a freedom and thrilling abandonment in its hypnotic shuffle boogie and punky blues rocks riffs” – Mojo

On Tuesday, October 24, Monqui Presents welcomes international sensation Songhoy Blues to the WOW Hall.

Songhoy Blues has always been about resistance, which is the title of their new album.

“We started this group during a civil war, in the face of a music ban, to create something positive out of adversity,” the band states.  “As long as we have music left in us and something to say, we'll keep fighting each day with music as our weapon, our songs as our resistance.”

Just released (June 20, 2017) Résistance was recorded in the autumn of 2016 at The Pool studio in London with producer Neil Comber (MIA, Django Django, Crystal Fighters, Declan McKenna) and, in keeping with their spirit of collaboration which saw them previously work with Nick Zinner, Julian Casablancas and Damon Albarn, features additional synths by Lxury and vocal contributions from the likes of Iggy Pop, Elf Kid and Stealing Sheep.  Beyond this, the album features beautiful string parts (“Babou”) and in one particularly surprising, moving instance (“One Colour”), a children’s choir.  The band Songhoy Blues is Aliou Toure (vocals / guitar), Garba Toure (guitar / vocals), Oumar Toure (bass / vocals) and Nathanael Dembele (drums / vocals).

Lyrically and sonically, Resistance is a huge leap forward for Songhoy Blues, a musical snapshot of a band at the top of their game. Richer, more eclectic and musically adventurous, it captures a band that, for the past three years, has toured the world and soaked up music far beyond the borders of their native Mali.  With more time and a wider armoury of equipment at their disposal, the album is the sound of Songhoy Blues stretching themselves, with hints of R&B, soul and hip-hop all fusing seamlessly with the band’s trademark exuberant sound, with themes for our time.

While the debut album Music In Exile was lyrically rather parochial, dealing with the problems faced by the people of Mali, the new album is more universal in tone and speaks positively about their homeland, lovingly talking about the beauty of the Sahara and nightlife in Bamako.

Once among the most prominent of Mali’s many ethnic groups, the Songhoy now live largely on the margins of the West African nation. Nonetheless, the Songhoy people retain a fierce pride in their history, beliefs, and traditional music.  Hailing from the heart of Gao, on the banks of the Niger River, Oumar Touré and Aliou Touré grew up obsessed with hip-hop, R&B, and classic rock like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. They found a kindred spirit and musical brother in guitarist Garba Touré (son of Oumar Touré, long term percussionist in Ali Farka Touré’s band).

The growing unrest in the north of Mali saw Oumar, Aliou, Garba and many of their family take refuge down south in Bamako as hostilities worsened in early 2012 and Songhoy Blues were born from this adversity. “We met up (in Bamako),” remembers Garba, “and told ourselves we couldn’t just stay shipwrecked by a crisis like this. We had to form a band.”  They roped in a young drummer called Nathanial ‘Nat’ Dembele from Bamako and baptised their band Songhoy Blues in celebration of their displaced people and culture.  The band members’ deep attachment to the home-grown songs and dances of the Songhoy (both traditional and the modern guitar based sounds) helped to shape their music.

The ambitious young band was soon a fixture on the Bamako live music scene. Prompted by local studio owner, in September 2013 Songhoy Blues reached out to producer/manager Marc-Antoine Moreau (Amadou & Mariam, K’Naan), in town to scout new talent for the extraordinary Africa Express project.  An audition followed and Songhoy Blues were invited to record a track with Nick Zinner, acclaimed producer and guitarist in NYC’s one and only Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The song, entitled “Soubour”, proved a highlight of 2013’s critically applauded African Express Presents…Maison Des Jeunes. Invited to perform at the launch of the album in London in December 2013, the band later returned in the summer of 2014 to play shows in London, Glasgow and at the WOMAD festival, and signed a deal with Transgressive Records.

Songhoy Blues also appear in a documentary film about Malian musicians’ fight with the extremist forces that have seen music banned in much of the country, They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 day of show.  Doors open at 7:00 pm and showtime is 8:00.

 

Door Time: 
October 24, 2017 - 7:00pm
Cost: 
$15 Advance, $17 Day of Show