New Internationalist

Mixed media: music reviews

April 2017

A Common Truth by Satland; Les Amazones d’Afrique by République Amazone: our music reviews of the month.

01-04-590-Band Amazones d'Afrique-590.jpeg [Related Image]
Amazing Amazons, tackling FGM and other abuses

République Amazone

by Les Amazones d’Afrique (Real World, MOV 012, CD, LP and digital)

Benin’s Angélique Kidjo, Mali’s Kandia (‘La Dangereuse’) Kouyaté, Nigeria’s Nneka: these are but three of the queens of west African music who crowd into this fundraiser for the Panzi Foundation, a medical charity that supports women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The foundation focuses on treating women who have injuries of gynaecological origin, including those who have suffered FGM and sexual violence. In addition, it’s an album that celebrates the concerted voices of an incredible array of African talent, with the well established, such as drummer Mouneïssa Tandina, singer Mamani Keita and Mariam Doumbia (this time without Amadou), joining forces with the lesser known.

Of this latter group, Inna Modja, a musician taught by Salif Keita, is a real ear-opener, as are Mariam and Roki Koné and the political rapper, Nneka.

These are lovely, fluid songs, all given a crystalline edge from Liam Farrell’s production. This works perfectly on the opener, ‘Dombolo’ and ‘I Play the Kora’, which is pretty much an ensemble piece. It’s a curated album, which means that there aren’t any songs in which the whole group can come together – a pity. A pity, too, that, the lyrics for the ‘Kora’ song, which originally looked forward to President Hillary Clinton, had to be changed. Nevertheless, an excellent collection and for a sadly necessary cause.

★★★★ LG

A Common Truth

Wildly interesting, utterly unclassifiable, eco-activist and composer Rebecca Foon.

by Saltland (Constellation Records CST 123, LP, CD and digital)

This strange and lovely album, the second one from cellist/composer Rebecca Foon, conjures up great lonely wildernesses, places hovering between times and spaces. It uses sound to describe how fragile the world is. Coming from the wildly interesting, utterly unclassifiable Montreal Constellation label, A Common Truth is, as you would expect it to be, laden with curious sounds. Foon’s combination of raw and multi-tracked cello creates unusual depths and presences throughout this nine-tracker and nothing seems superfluous or over-technical, despite the opportunities for sonic reorganization presented by digital technology.

Consisting mostly of instrumentals that brood and hover with a slow ambience, A Common Truth does also feature a few songs, with lyrics placed close to the cello-lines. It’s not always easy to hear Foon’s murmuring, but even so, the effect is quite sumptuous. This is composition that rejoices in its oscillatory dilations. Foon is aided by her guest, Warren Ellis – the multi-instrumentalist who has contributed so much to Nick Cave’s oeuvre – and this adds much to the sonic texture. Foon is a long-term ecological activist (and a director of the Sustainability Solutions Group), so A Common Truth is informed by the self-evident: the disaster that climate change means for the world. These deeper concerns are threaded through this beautiful and sombre work.

★★★★★ LG

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 501 This column was published in the April 2017 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Mixed media: music reviews

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Music

All Music

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 501

New Internationalist Magazine issue 501
Issue 501

More articles from this issue

  • Country Profile: Cambodia

    April 1, 2017

    Both cash flow and political power have remained concentrated in Cambodia, writes Zoe Holman.

  • Mr Tough

    April 1, 2017

    The violence of the Duterte regime in the Philippines and the devotion of his fans, as witnessed by Iris C Gonzales.

  • The populist moment

    April 1, 2017

    Don’t just think of it as a dirty word, says Richard Swift; a genuine populism of the Left is long overdue.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.