Two years after Lobi Traoré’s death, the record label Kanaga System Krush will release the famed Bwati Kono on heavyweight vinyl in October. The Malian guitarist and singer was captured live during spectacular sets at Bamako clubs before his untimely death in 2010.
“He had a very heavy electric style which was a radical departure from most Malian music,” explains producer and long-time Malian music researcher Aja Salvatore. “When he passed, lots of people realized what a groundbreaker he was. I am so happy I got to see him live, when he was at the top of his game.”
Thanks to production guidance on his early recordings from revered Malian blue guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Traoré became a well-respected musician. He caught the ears and performed with artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) and Jackson Browne.
“What I love about Lobi’s playing is how hypnotic, bluesy, and emotional it is—absolutely his own style, but in direct line with the deep, modal Delta blues I love,” Bonnie Raitt commented. “He was a rising star, carrying on the soulful, improvisational style of Ali Farka Touré and John Lee Hooker.”
Traoré developed a sound reinvigorating electric modal blues with the kind of African improvisational phrasing that gave the style its flavor to begin with.
“One of the great things about this recording, something that makes it great for listening on vinyl is that you get a feel for what Lobi sounded like live. He played electric, gritty stuff, with lots of feedback,” explains Salvatore. “Other recordings cleaned up his guitar, which disguised some of his greatness.”
To reflect Lobi’s musical world and artistic vision, Kanaga System Krush commissioned delicate yet strikingly intense cover art by Northern California paper artist, Tahiti Pearson, and reordered the tracks, to provide a more satisfying and new vinyl listening experience. Volume 1 of 2, this release features six tracks from the original album, to be followed by Volume 2, which will include several unreleased and bonus songs.
Brief documentary on Lobi: