Damon Albarn’s Africa Express collective will mark the 50th anniversary of composer Terry Riley’s game-changing work “In C” with their own, 41-minute version of the piece. Africa Express Presents… Terry Riley’s In C Mali will be “the first African version of the minimalist classic” as the initiative continues to connect African musicians with some of popular music’s biggest names.
Joining Albarn on the album will be regular collaborators Brian Eno and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, as well as Albarn’s Gorillaz bandmate/former Beady Eye member Jeff Wootton. The piece was recorded last year at the Maison des Juenes Youth Club in Bamako, Mali, from where many of the Africa Express musicians hail. Co-produced and mixed by Mouse on Mars’ Andi Toma, Transgressive Records will release the album digitally on November 24th, followed by a CD and limited vinyl edition on January 26th.
The Africa Express group delivered a special one-off performance of their version of “In C” earlier this month on the Bridge of the Turbine Gallery at London’s Tate Modern. An interactive film featuring the performance alongside famous minimalist art from the Tate Collection will be release at TheSpace.org on November 28th.
In an official statement, Riley commented on the new attention his piece is receiving:
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.”
Digital pre-orders for Africa Express Presents… Terry Riley’s In C Mali are ongoing. You can listen to a five-minute excerpt below, and see a full list of all the contributors.
Adama Koita: Kamel N’goni
Alou Coulibaly: Calabash
Andi Toma: Additional Percussion, Kalimba
André de Ridder: Violin, Baritone-guitar, Kalimba
Badou Mbaye: Djembe, Percussion
Brian Eno, Bijou, Olugbenga: Vocals
Cheick Diallo: Flutes
Damon Albarn: Melodica
Defily Sako, Modibo Diawara: Kora
Guindo Sala: Imzad
Kalifa Koné, Mémé Koné: Balafon
Nick Zinner, Jeff Wootton: Guitar