Africa Express is Damon Albarn’s project that brings together Western musical luminaries (Brian Eno, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, Albarn himself) with Malian musicians. Last year, they released the Africa Express Presents: Maison Des Jeunes album. And later this month, they’ll release their tribute to Terry Riley’s landmark minimalist composition “In C,” which Riley debuted 50 years ago this month. Andi Toma of Mouse On Mars co-produced and mixed the 41-minute Africa Express version of “In C,” which features Albarn, Eno, Zinner, and Gorillaz guitarist Nick Wootton alongside a number of musicians from the Malian city of Bamako. Based on the lovely five-minute excerpt below, the various musicians found plenty of room for melody and joy within Riley’s framework. Listen to the excerpt and read a statement from Riley below.
I am overwhelmed and delighted by this CD. I was not quite prepared for such an incredible journey, hearing the soul of Africa in joyous flight over those 53 patterns of “In C.” This ensemble feeds the piece with ancient threads of musical wisdom and humanity indicating to me that this work is a vessel ready to receive and be shaped by the spontaneous feelings and colours of the magician/musician. I could not ask for a greater gift for this daughter’s 50th birthday.
Terry Riley’s In C Mali is out 11/24 digitally and 1/26 physically on Transgressive.