Ballake Sissoko - Les Egarés (No Format!)


Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko has spent many years playing music with French cellist Vincent Segal, releasing several albums on the adventurous label No Format! Here the pair team up with accordionist Vincent Peirani and soprano sax player Emilie Parisien, a much-admired jazz duo dedicated to exploring the boundaries of the genre. Their music draws from a multitude of repertoires and traditions from across the world, including Balkan and West-African music, Columbian cumbia or free jazz.


Despite the title, the four musicians do not lack direction but seem intent on discovering new horizons through a communal and improvisational approach.


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Christine and the Queens - Paranoia, Angels, True Love (Because Music)


Drawing inspiration from a play which examines the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, the latest album by Christine & the Queens is a sort of pop-opera. Chris, the creative force behind the band, also lost his mother in 2019 so much of the album is about living through grief and finding communion with the dead. Written and recorded with what feels like a sense of urgency, Paranoia, Angels, True Love nonetheless offers beautiful, stylish and hypnotically melodic pop. Incorporating the voice of Madonna on a few tracks, the album has an 80s feel to it although influences range from soul, dance and trip-hop to contemporary rap.


While some experiments may put off some listeners this is emotionally powerful and highly danceable music.


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Henri Texier - An Indian's Life (Label Bleu)


One of French jazz's iconic figures, Henri Texier has had a long and prolific career. At the age of 78 he remains highly active, producing as dynamic a music as ever. An Indian's Life continues his lifelong interest in Native American history and culture, which he initially developed in his 1993 album An Indian's week. Once again Texier has produced a work of vibrating and exhilarating music, exploring the relationship one can have to memory, ancestors and traditions.


The music is both intimate and daring, unrestrained and precise, the seven-piece band he convened for the album adding to the traditional repertoire a range of patterns and moods that make the familiar sounds unusual, surprising and fresh.


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