CD Shorts

Patti Smith
Banga
(Columbia)

It’s been eight years since Smith’s last album of new material. In the intervening years, between writing an award-winning memoir and recording bold and worthy covers of iconic rock songs, she’s traveled, played in remote cities, received honors from world leaders, and feasted on the history and art of foreign lands. All these ingredients flavor Banga—personal and global introspection; big ideas with haunting electric guitar and solid drums; in the album’s opening and closing, epic visions of European conquest. “Amerigo” imagines a happy, sweetly transcendent first contact in which explorers see the folly of their ways, get naked and join the dance. In “Constantine’s Dream,” Smith draws far darker, mystical connections between an Italian painter’s death and Columbus’ first step in the New World. The rest adds detail to this rich fresco of hope, loss and beauty. —Mark Roessler

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Sidi Toure
Koima
(Thrill Jockey)

On this followup to his 2011 debut, Malian songwriter/guitarist Toure showcases the evolution of his music with more complex arrangements and a fuller cast of players. Featuring an additional guitarist, a calabash player and a sokou (traditional African violin) player, the 10 tracks are tributes both to Songhaï folk music traditions and to magical places of legend. In fact, the translation of Koima is “go hear,” and refers to a Malian meeting place for “the most powerful wizards of the world.” Opening cut “Ni see ay ga done (“It is to You That I Sing”)” sets the mood with chanted vocals and up-tempo finger-picking, while the closing “Euvo” has a more blues-influenced tone. Interestingly, even though this sophomore effort was recorded in a studio instead of live, Toure still keeps the sound intimate, even when he’s trying to get you dancing. —Michael Cimaomo

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That Noble Fury
That Noble Fury
(That Noble Fury LLC)

Somewhat paradoxically given the title of this album, through most of the songs, the emotional vocals speak softly amidst the swelling tones of piano and strings, punctuated by percussion. Several songs, like “My Elephant” and “Boy Get Back,” follow the same format, but with a punchier beat. Despite this variation in rhythm, the songs comprising That Noble Fury have a similar feel. Drawn-out notes and whispery vocals permeate each piece. The exceptions are “The Matador” and “Cadenza,” both of which receive a refreshing injection of energy from a violin wielded by Grammy-winning Phil Setzer of the Emerson String Quartet. The final song, “Sail On,” is the most surreal and sweeping of them all, fusing electronic sounds with those of other kinds of instruments and ending with a sudden cutoff. —Patrick Kelley

Author: Advocate Staff

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