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AMADOU & MARIAM‘s 2012 album, Folila, which featured guest spots by Santigold and TV On The Radio, among others, was hailed by NME as “a great chuffing masterstroke of genre mixing.” But amid the experimentalism, their music still sparkles with the Afro-blues sound that has made this blind husband-and-wife duo one of West Africa’s finest musical exports since their emergence in the 1980s. Distorted guitars, orchestral elements, and even French house beats combine with the traditional Malian instrumentation of their upbringing to form the band’s unmistakable tapestry of sound. Of their latest single, Pitchfork writes, “Amadou and Mariam know just how to balance the weight of the message with the pull of the dance floor.”
The thunderous New York City collective INNOV GNAWA builds upon Morocco’s gnawa tradition with clattering, hypnotic rhythms, led by Maalem (Master) Hassan Ben Jaafer of Fez and cited by Brooklyn Magazine as one of “Five Bands You Need to Know in Brooklyn’s Arabic Music Scene.” To kick things off, the “seductively tuneful” (The New York Times) Sudanese indie rocker AHMED GALLAB, better known by his stage name Sinkane, will spin records.