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Baaba Maal Announces New Album 'Being'

Baaba Maal Announces New Album 'Being'

‘Being’, will be released on March 31st, 2023.

Baaba Maal's [BA-ba Marl] daring and dazzling new album, 'Being', will be released on March 31st, 2023.

The record is a powerful continuation of his pioneering, transcendent work over the last forty years, blending the ancient and the modern, the acoustic and the electronic.

Extending his productive partnership with producer and multi-instrumentalist Johan Karlberg (Self Esteem, The Very Best, Santigold), his first album since 2016's The Traveller, 'Being' was recorded in Brooklyn, London and Senegal and confirms Maal as one of the most uniquely compelling and constantly surprising musicians in the world.

Baaba and his extraordinary band will also be performing at the Barbican in London, the first time in 20 years at the venue, on May 30th, 2023. Fans who pre-order the album from Bandcamp can access the artist presale for tickets on Monday (December 5th).

The rousing first track from the album is released today, "Yerimayo Celebration," an introduction to a collection of songs that sees Baaba calling for people to both honor tradition and deal with new technology as they face up to a rapidly changing, challenging world.

Featuring regular collaborators including Cheikh Ndoye on bass ngoni and Momadou Sarr on percussion, it is a glorious, positive percussion-heavy celebration of music and how in troubled times it can open the mind and hearts and fight cynicism and chaos.

'Being' is the latest stage in the development of a highly distinctive, ecstatically melodic sound that ingeniously fuses traditional African instruments and rhythms with a dramatically modern electronic approach. It's a set of confrontational and contemplative stories where Maal mixes evocative, personal local concerns with grand universal themes to produce a unique form of deep, immersive soul music, taking the listener to new places via his birthplace of Podor, Senegal, where his music always begins, and his travels always end.

"However far I travel, whatever direction, I will always return home," Baaba says. "It is the nomadic nature. To wander, but to return home, eventually. Home is where you start from, where you begin to learn what really matters, and home is where you finish. Podor is the perfect place for me when I need some time to think, to see my music with a fresh eye, to surprise it, snare it, catch it unawares as if coming across it for the first time."

Baaba Maal has followed his music as it traveled the world, spreading word of an energetic, idealistic Africa - from his young travels around West Africa performing songs with mentor Mansour Seck, to the Paris conservatoire where he studied musical theory, and ultimately across the globe.

He has collaborated with John Leckie, Brian Eno, Damon Albarn's Africa Express and Mumford & Sons. He has worked on movie soundtracks for The Last Temptation of Christ and Black Hawk Down and more recently become the voice of Wakanda for the Black Panther films, helping soundtrack composer Ludwig Goransson create the film's exhilarating musical soundscape.

"I could bring my Africa to this other, abstract Africa, and both places collided together beautifully," he says of Black Panther, "I brought this mythical Africa back to Podor, extending my reality, my hometown, and my music. I didn't know whether I would make another album after The Traveller, but I did know my thinking about music was still changing. And once more something stirred inside me at home in Podor. I found myself once again. It was time for a new album."

Experiences before, during and after the pandemic coalesced into 'Being,' an album about being from Africa, being a songwriter, being a romantic, being a realist, being wary, being online, being at the mercy of the elements, being caught between two worlds, being on your way somewhere, and ultimately about being from Podor while being connected through song and dance to an always turbulent and shifting world.

"Each song of this album has its own personality. A song is like a person. It has a life, name, a character, and it has a position in life. I think that's what makes this album so powerful - it is totally about now and where I am now, the dreams I have of the past and the future."

The jams, loops and beats passed back and forth between Maal and Karlberg, generate their own character and atmosphere, reflecting Maal's need to continually go forward with his music. As always, there was no deadline. Songs were finished when they were finished, emerging out of a combination of fast and slow work. There were intense improvisational studio sessions in Brooklyn, Podor and London where things moved quickly and songs took shape over a few days.

After these energetic bursts of activity, singer and producer took time to process their work, and songs would reveal themselves over many months. They would sometimes be recorded by the ocean, in the open air, and the sound of crickets, dogs, donkeys, birds, traffic, rain, people talking nearby would become part of Baaba's demand for more percussion, and then for more percussion to be added to even more percussion.

On 'Being,' there are seven songs shimmering in exquisitely clashing equilibrium between dirty thorny desert blues and intangible electro-spirituals, between uplifting chants and trance-like freak outs. They are about generational debts and conflicts, rivers, watching people, seeing new generations of Africans make themselves felt, the impact of technology, remembering dreams, the magic of place, the strangeness of time, the feeling of home, the stars above, and the rhythms inside and out. Mixing up signs of a new Africa, there is a welcome reunion with The Very Best's singer Esau Mwamwaya on "Freak Out" and

appearances from exciting new singer Rougi on "Boboyillo" and Mauritanian rapper General Paco Lenol on "Nbedo Wella."

"Always in my life, but especially in the last few years, during the pandemic, and while this album was becoming itself, I discovered the most important thing is just to be. To deal with the world as it is by simply being what I am meant to be. And that is to be a musician finding ways to save the elements of the world that can make it such a beautiful planet and using music and good thinking to fight those forces that wish to destroy it."



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