Chamber Music Import
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Chamber Music is a collaboration between Ballake Sissoko, who plays the traditional kora, a lute-harp from Mali, and Vincent Segal, the French cellist who plays for the trip-hop band Bumcello. It is also, quite simply, one of the most elegant and beautiful recordings of world music in recent years. At a time when cross-cultural music has tended toward highly-caffeinated electric pop and dance music, Sissoke and Segal remind us that there is room and maybe even a need for a quieter, more refined world music. Both musicians have displayed an aptitude for defying expectations the list of trip-hop cellists is pretty short, after all. And Ballake Sissoko has become a familiar name on the world music scene through his work with American blues legend Taj Mahal and Italian minimalist Ludovico Einaudi, among others. But perhaps the combination of kora and cello works so well because there are no expectations for it. The collaboration grew out of a personal friendship, and at no point was there an attempt to produce a record that would be slick and hip and commercial. Yet it has become one of Europe's most buzzed-about worldmusic recordings in the past year. Chamber Music was recorded in the Moffou Studio, founded by the great Malian singer Salif Keita to provide a world-class environment for musicians wishing to record acoustic, perhaps even authentic,African music. (Keita's own acoustic album, Moffou, was recorded there.) The cello, of course, is not a traditional African instrument. But Chamber Music, in its depth of feeling and variety of moods, is authentically African. The kora may not appear in the duos, trios, or quartets of Beethoven, Schumann, or Brahms; but the obvious musical and personal connection between Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal also marks this as an authentic, if original, type of chamber music.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As a fan of African music, and classical music, the pairing of the cello with the traditional African instrument the kora struck me as a potentially great album.
Upon further listening, the duo of cello and kora creates a wonderful soundscape of tones and colors, with Sissoko and Segal playing off of each other, carrying out fascinating musical conversations that are easy to wrap your ear around. The songs on this album transport you to a wonderful quiet world of pondering and beauty.
This album calls to mind other duo albums like Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer or Béla Fleck's "Africa Project," but Chamber Music succeeds in some areas that those albums don't and thats in its approachable simplicity. There's no forays into atonality. No jarring time signature asymmetries. Just plaintive beauty that is charming and easy to delve into for any music lover.
One aspect of this record I enjoy a lot is that it doesn't require you to be a fan of "world music" but simply asks you to be a fan of music period. With the exception of "Regret" which has singing in a foreign language and feels very world music genre based (this is no fault), any other track on the song could fit in a playlist of relaxing study music, or soundtrack a walk through a park on a quiet afternoon.
If you are a fan of classical music, world music, or just contemplative instrumental music, I highly recommend Chamber Music. It is an album filled with beauty, contemplation, and balance, conjuring up whatever worlds you let it take you to.