Albarn has been organising collaborations between African and American / European artists for the best part of a decade now, bringing both established names and underground producers (a previous trip featured Actress and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs) with him to Africa. In a piece published in The Guardian this weekend, Albarn opens up about his latest trip to Mali, revealing that the latest cast of musicians he’s taken over include Tri Angle’s echo chamber r’n’b producer Holy Other, ambient pioneer Brian Eno, actor and musician Idris Elba, best known for his roles in The Wire and Luther.
Albarn also reveals that an Africa Express album is in the making, where “producers including Eno, Ghostpoet, Pauli the PSM from Gorillaz and Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs work out which Malian artists to collaborate with, and set about recording and producing them in new ways.”
When asked about his role in the project, Eno simply replies “I’m just listening. I don’t know what to do other than sit there with my mouth wide open … I don’t feel inclined to sample and make loops and play over the top – for me it’s too complete.”
“I was quite surprised coming here how broken the place is”, Eno continues. “How the streets are terrible. The open sewers stink. It’s very disheartening in a way. But what is really strong here is social infrastructure – it’s so powerful and rich. My feeling is that Malian music draws attention to the richness of that social capital, and if you listen to it, you realise something about this society really is sorted.”
You can read the full piece here.