Amadou & Mariam, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, DJ Warp | Park West | International | Chicago Reader
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Amadou & Mariam, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, DJ Warp 

When: Tue., June 2, 8 p.m. 2009
Price: $30, $25 in advance
Most of the cassette recordings this husband-and-wife duo released when they were still based in Mali, collected in 2005 on the wonderful box set 1990-1995: L’Integrale des Annees Maliennes (Because), are of fairly traditional songs in stripped-down arrangements—just Mariam Doumbia and Amadou Bagayoko’s paired voices and Bagayoko’s guitar. But as soon as they began to make full-band records in Paris in the late 90s, Bagayoko’s love for electric blues and modern soul came shining through, and on both their 2005 breakthrough, Dimanche a Bamako, and the brand-new Welcome to Mali (Nonesuch) they work with an even more diverse palette—the polymorphous Manu Chao produced Dimanche, and the new disc’s lead single, “Sabali,” is a dusty synth-pop number produced by longtime fan Damon Albarn. But though Amadou & Mariam have become genuine pop stars, not just world-music stars, the circular grooves and hypnotizing Mande melodies of their homeland still throb at the heart of everything they do. For every tilt away from West African styles—the rhymes of Somalian rapper K’naan, the English-language lyrics on “I Follow You”—there’s a counterbalancing nod to those roots, like the killer cameos from kora master Toumane Diabate and balafon player Boubacar Dembele. And despite the sometimes elaborate production, the couple’s magical tandem singing and Bagayoko’s stinging, stabbing guitar remain the bone and sinew of the tunes. Occidental Brothers Dance Band International and DJ Warp open. —Peter Margasak

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