Release Date: 17/11/08 Label: Because Music Link: www.amadou-mariam.com The Afro-Blues duo have yet again lobbed some multi-cultural brilliance at the western world with their new album. With their rock guitars, and instruments ranging from Africa, Asia, Arabia and various world tribes, Amadou and Mariam's music has given world music a boost in the eyes of the UK, American and French music scenes. Welcome To Mali is no exception and is set to have Britain dancing in Moroccan robes and playing tablas. The album has more of a diversity than the adventures of Michael Palin, Ewan McGregor and David Attenborough put together. It seems to take you from Tokyo with the synthesised instruments and high pitched vocals of 'Sabali', to Tennessee with the Memphis sounding organ in 'Compagnon De La Vie', to Paris with the French jazz-funk fusion of 'Unissons Nous', all with a touch of Mali from the tour guides, Amadou and Mariam. The Language is varied as well, but it is a shame that it cannot all be in French and Bambara, as the English lyrics take away a lot of the music's mysticism and are all rather basic. The lyrics don't go as far as to ruin the music however; hearing the statement "Welcome to Mali" alongside the bold bass instruments certainly shows emphasis of pride in one's country, being announced in a global language to let the whole world hear.  What contributes to Welcome To Mali's grand contrast of cultures is the amount of contribution from different people and areas of the world. It was produced in Bamako, Dakar, Paris and London, partly by Lauren Jais, who has previously worked alongside Manu Chao, and it features many guest musicians including Nigerian funk guitarist, Keziah Jones, and provocative Afro-Jamaican songwriter, Tiken Jah Fakoli. The opening track, 'Sabali', was also co-produced by Damon Albarn, and it is easy to see his influence in the song, as it might as well be part of 'Monkey: Journey To The West'. Quite often western musicians try to break boundaries by exploring music of other cultures, and there are some shining examples of people who have made something amazing from their attempts. But rarely do we hear of musicians from the other side expanding their outlooks, while still focussing on the sound of their homeland. Amadou and Mariam have done this to great extremes, making Mali sound like a whole planet rather than a country.