This week’s picks include one of electronica’s premiere acts, a final document from a deceased giant of African music and a new voice from Brazil.
Experimental techno can be a strange and often charmless genre – all too often reminiscent of Sprockets, the old Saturday Night Live sketch featuring the German performance artist Dieter. The London-born producer Kieran Hebden mostly avoids the genre’s difficulties with his project Four Tet. In the new album, There Is Love In You, Hebden layers soft voices and organic beats in a warm and inviting mix. At times, Four Tet brings to mind early Philip Glass, with its mesmerizing repetitions and combination of bell chimes and voices. The new Four Tet album is a perfect intro to the warmer side of electronic music. -- Brian Wise (Buy it on Amazon.com)
Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate - Ali & Toumani (Nonesuch)
The great African blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure passed away almost four years ago. But that hasn’t stopped him from releasing a new album, with his friend Toumani Diabate, the very-much-still-with-us kora player. The two won a Grammy for their last album together, In the Heart of the Moon. This record, entitled Ali And Toumani, was recorded while they toured after that record. The album features instrumental duos and songs with subtle help from Cuban percussionist Cachaito, who also passed away since recording the album. Ali’s son, Vieux Farka Toure, contributes voice and percussion, too. -- John Schaefer (Buy it on Amazon.com)
Vanessa de Mata - Yes (Discos 605/Red Distribution)
Two years ago, this was a ubiquitous song in Brazil. Good Luck, Boa Sorte is a duet between two singer-songwriters, Brazilian Vanessa da Mata and American Ben Harper. “Good Luck, Boa Sorte” is one of the stand-out tracks on Vanessa da Mata’s US debut album Sim – or Yes. The version of the song that topped the charts in Brazil featured both da Mata and Harper singing in their native languages. But it’s a good thing she sticks to Portuguese for most of the record. It would be tough to translate a dirty little samba about a man being dumped for a soap-opera into English. Sim won a Latin Grammy in 2008. --Gisele Regatao (Buy it on Amazon.com)