With her new album London Ko, Fatoumata Diawara continues to reinvent traditional African music, after taking us back to her Mandinka roots in projects such as Maliba and Le Vol du Boli with Abderrahmane Sissako.
Her last album, Fenfo, saw her really begin to invent her own style, it earned her nominations at the Grammy Awards and Victoires de la Musique in 2019. Still rewriting the rules, Fatou plunges us back into her eclectic, avant-garde universe. With the different colours she brings to her music (afrobeat, jazz, pop, electro and even hip hop), it is impossible to put London Ko into any one box. “I put all my love, my soul and my body into the creative process for this album.”
Sharper than ever with her words, she strikes a perfect balance between synthetic sounds and traditional Malian rhythms. The track ‘Dambe’ (which can be translated as ‘the values of tradition’) clearly sets out Fatoumata Diawara’s intentions as an artist: she doesn’t just critique, she brings fresh ideas. Music is her chosen tool, and she uses it to reveal the possibility of a different relationship with time. This shift between avant-garde style and tributes to her ancestors diffuses the discords of the present. The mixture of genres can then be understood as a means of emancipation. Fatou also plays with geographic spaces, as we see in the title of the album, London Ko. A neologism that is also symbolic of her collaboration with Damon Albarn, which gives rise to a new world, a fusion of Bamako and London. A nod to the richness of mixing, of being open to the Other, and to the importance interculturality. A central figure in the English music world and a real connoisseur of African music, Damon Albarn co-produced the album, and features on no fewer than six tracks.