Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Ghostpoet ft. Doucora – Season Change

Malian drum-group Doucora appear here with British vocalist Obaro Ejimiwe, better known as Ghostpoet. The song came together as a result of the trip to Mali made by Damon Albarn and others including Brian Eno to create the album Maison Des Jeunes, released as part of his on-going Africa Express project. Its a project that seems to have plenty of life in it, with a recent show at Roskilde festival in Denmark seemingly on course to go on forever, beyond the 5 hour set that had already occurred. The music only stopped when Albarn was physically carried off stage much to the jovial dismay of the crowd, who had probably seen enough.

In this week’s song the legendary ‘talking drum’ the tamani takes centre stage away from Ghostpoet’s vocals towards the end of the song. The drums save the song from being rather ordinary and the tamani solo is the song’s zenith. It displays the drum as a fully tuned instrument, enabling the player to ‘talk’ and share messages through the drum, however throughout the song the tamani can be heard melodically beating along in the background. On what I can only presume is the band’s Facebook page they explain that using the example of their song ‘Maraka’, where the tamani is deployed to “intervene” in a fight between two young men. The drums talks by mimicking the sounds and structure of speech and works excellently in ‘Seasons Change’ as a way to heighten the mood, throwing down the gauntlet to the dusty tones of Ghostpoet.

Informing the world of the wonders of this instrument appears to be a clear aim for Doncora. The dream, the Facebook page states, is to develop the world’s musical understanding through this ‘sacred’ instrument. The sound is captivating and is remarkably engaging for just a drum. But that’s what makes the tamani so special; it makes us completely rethink the purpose and potential of percussion.



Ghostpoet ft. Doucora – Season Change

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