|Thrill Jockey Records is proud to present, Koïma the second full-length album by Malian songwriter and guitarist Sidi Touré. Sidi's music comes from Gao, a city in the north of Mali, and draws inspiration from traditional music and religion, but is informed by western blues, rock, and culture. The winner of two Malian national awards for best singer, Sidi was leader of Gao‚s regional orchestra, The Songhaï Stars, and is a nationally renowned figure in his home country. In 2011, Sidi released Sahel Folk, his debut album for Thrill Jockey, and toured North America for the first time. This tour took him to prestigious venues and festivals, including New York‚s Lincoln Center, Chicago‚s Old Town School of Folk Music, and the Chicago World Music Festival. Through Thrill Jockey‚s introduction of Sidi to new audiences, he is beginning to achieve well-deserved success and critical acclaim abroad.
Koïma is the natural progression from Sahel Folk, as Sidi has moved from an album of duets, recorded all in one take in his sister's home in Gao, to a quintet recorded in a studio in Bamako. With Koïma, the intent was to record a different side of Songhaï music from the style captured on Sahel Folk. Thanks to the simplicity and the sobriety of Sahel Folk, listeners heard the Songhaï music in its purer form, its sparse soul exposed to everyone. On Koïma, the music is still distinctly Gao, but represented this time in a much richer and luxuriant way. We move from the intimacy of a quiet meeting between friends to the celebration of an evening of dance. On Koïma, Sidi is able to more fully realize his vision for his music.
Accompanied by a guitarist, calabash player, traditional violin (sokou) player, and singer, Sidi has given us ten new songs that naturally mix tradition and modernity, African magic and city-dwelling dilemmas. The songs are personal tributes to the Songhaï folk music traditions, which, depending on the rhythm, are called Takambas, Holleys, Gao-Gaos, or Shallos.
The album title Koïma literally means "go hear." Koïma is an emblematic place of Gao, "a Dune with his feet in the waters of the river Niger, and with his head touching the sky," says Sidi. In Malian folklore, Koïma is the meeting place for the most powerful wizards of the world. Sidi received permission from the dune's chief to go on the dune and to swim in the Niger. This album is an offering to the mystical power of that place.