Take the Brazilian poet and singer, Arnaldo Antunes and a guitarist who is pretty good with his hands (a friend of the former and of the same nationality), Edgard Scandurra. Send them to Bamako, Mali, for two weeks. Add a third scoundrel to the duo, Toumani Diabaté, an ambassador of Mandingo music and a genius with a kora, and you get…a disappointing album.Given the considerable talents of each of the individual band members, this album has not fulfilled its potential. However, the meeting of the two rockers and the virtuoso Malian at the festival Back2Black in Rio raised expectations for a kind of UFO-themed music similar to the album they made with Ballaké Sissoko or to that made with Ali FarkaTouré and Ry Cooder. Unfortunately, listening to this album without a real message or a logical path to follow, the listener is left wanting more meaning or explanation. You will find yourself desperately searching for Arnaldo Antunes' dark poetry and Scandurra's aggression, yet to no avail.
The CD is fine for background music, especially considering the talents of the musicians in question, but this just turns out to be a cover for the surprising lack of depth to the tracks. In fact, certain songs do give you hope that the album is finally about to improve, but they never really reach their full musical potential. Strangely enough, the different musical talents of the band members seem to annihilate rather than complement each other. Not enough fiery guitar riffs, not enough soothing kora during the aggressive sections, lyrics that don't exactly transport us to another world - and in fact sometimes even lead to boredom - this all makes for a 'nice' but rather mundane album.
Even when Diabaté's son, Sidiki, accompanies the kora with a heavy bass pedal, certain sections of the song remain wanting. The intention is there; the electric guitar tries to be heard, but ultimately lacks the chance to really get going. It seems that a little less kora and a little more rock would have improved several sections of this album.
If you listen to Se Voce (dark rock) or Ir Mao (Afro Folk), you will see what we mean. These tracks are certainly the most interesting ones on the album and offer, for a change, a real musical message. Why, therefore, did the band not go further down this route?
All that is left to say with regards to Curva Da Cintura is that at least the listener gets to experience the rare mix of Brazilian and Malian music. Despite the fact that this album is disappointing for those who have heard the band's previous work, this harmony between the two genres makes the CD an easy listen and takes you on a musical journey between the two continents.
Average price: £9.64