Track of the Day #27

Fatima Yamaha began as a side project of multi-genre Dutch producer Bas Bron. Their 4 track EP titled “A Girl Between Two Worlds” looked destined to be the only material ever released under the alias until prominent tastemaker’s Dekmantel chose to reissue the album’s cult single “What’s A Girl To Do” over 11 years later in 2015. This decision has not only seen the single proliferate into an undisputed classic of contemporary electronic music, but served as the launchpad for reigniting the Fatima Yamaha project. The 2015 release of his well received inaugural album “Imaginary Lines” saw an extension of his, now signature synth work, but also marked the alias outgrowing its status as a side project. Furthermore, this year’s hit “Araya” has, alongside a well executed live show,  given Yamaha a position central to today’s scene that no one could have imagined prior to 2015.

Today’s track features Yamaha’s remix of the revered Malian Afropop stars Amadou and Mariam. The duo first met over thirty years ago whilst attending The Institute for the Young Blind in their home country. In addition to sharing in an inability to see from a young age, the two found a shared love and talent for music. Since marrying in 1980, they have gone on to release 7 albums, of which, four have charted in the French top 100, including 2004’s “Dimanche à Bamako”, which brought their West African influenced sounds to a worldwide audience and remains one of the best-selling African albums of all time. Musical success has continued in France and beyond, seeing them support the likes of U2, Blur, and Coldplay; become frequent collaborators of Damon Albarn, and play at World Cup and Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies.

2017 saw the release of their single “Bofou Safou”, a track that implores young men to work rather than choosing to dance their lives away. Although the message of the song seems sincere and no doubt purposeful, it is wrapped up in a warm disco track. Central to the track are Mariam’s rich, emotive vocals that fluctuating seamlessly between Bambara (the official language of Mali)  and French, whilst Amadou’s guitar breaks into full voice during the chorus, supplementing a track already oozing with groove.

In contrast to this, whilst Fatima Yamaha’s remix retains a 4/4 style, the track veers from the original daytime disco, instead crafting a darker piece. Signature Yamaha synth pads and chord stabs, alongside weightier drums, underlie his own guitar licks which feature prominently on the track. Mariam’s vocals remain, although they begin synthesised begin barely audible in the background, synthesised beyond comprehension. It is not until the 2 minute mark in which they enter fully, unedited, to dominate the piece. Whereas, in the original track, Mariam’s vocals are juxtaposed by upbeat by an upbeat backing, Yamaha’s production manages to emphasise a solemness and the almost mournful elements in her voice, enabling a subversion of the original that allows the remix to flourish.

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