When: Mon., July 23, 6:30 p.m. 2012
Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux made serious inroads internationally with her 2010 album 1977, and her increased profile seems to have afforded her the chance to work with bigger-name collaborators on her latest album, La Bala (Nacional), where she's joined by great Urguayan singer-songerwriter Jorge Drexler and Brazilian beat merchant Curumin, among others. Her tightly coiled flow remains a model of rhythmic economy, and her husky voice is still confined to a pretty narrow range of notes, but the tracks have changed quite a bit—instead of mostly just beats and samples, she's got a full complement of strings and horns on the bulk of the songs. The juxtaposition of her blunt rhyming with these orchestral trappings works well on "Shock," an angry tune that became an anthem for student protesters in Chile, but on many other songs the edge in Tijoux's voice can't compete with the jazzy, sometimes fussy arrangements. Here's hoping her her ferocity comes through onstage.
Malian singer and guitarist Sidi Toure seems to be making up for lost time with the recent Koïma (Thrill Jockey)—though it's just the third album under his own name in a career that he began in 1976 as a member of a regional orchestra in Gao called the Songhai Stars, it's his second since 2011. His first Thrill Jockey release, Sahel Folk, is an austere collection of duets recorded live at his sister's home in Gao—which Mali's ongoing Tuareg rebellion declared the capital of the unrecognized state of Azawad earlier this year—but by contrast the new album was cut in a Bamako studio with a full band, resulting in a richer, more propulsive sound. On both Sahel Folk and his U.S. tour supporting it, Toure seemed happy to yield the spotlight to his partners, and on Koïma he leads only as a vocalist; his acoustic guitar plays a purely rhythmic role, though he wrote the songs and their multilayered arrangements. The driving guitar lick of "Tondi Karaa" sounds like something you might hear on an amped-up Amadou & Mariam production, but rather than electric guitars and big beats it uses rustic sokou fiddle and clopping calabash—and the song is no less exciting for it. The hypnotic, bluesy style of Ali Farka Toure is another obvious point of comparison, especially on "Kalaa ay Makoïy," but this Toure has his own personality, and it's never sounded clearer. —Peter Margasak