Dirtmusic just keep getting better. With every release they seem to delve deeper into the heart and soul of their music and keep developing new ways to hypnotize and entrance the listener. This is music that has gone beyond and takes the listener with it.

Hugo Race (Bad Seeds & The Fatalists) and Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) are the core of Dirtmusic and their collaborations make the music what it is. They have hooked up here with the likes of Tamikrest, Ben Zabo, Super 11 and a stack of others. This was recorded in Bamako Mali in the same sessions that produced their last album ‘Troubles’ but these show another side of the music they laid down then – it is more upbeat and has a sense of wonderment in the music that wasn’t possible before.

As you might expect the basslines are awesome and the percussion throughout the album is crisp and taut but the rhythms are so fluid, sensuous, that the music takes you from place to place like a frantic hide and seek.
Just listen to a number like ‘Clouds are Cover’: talking drum and hand slapped congas with a bass that hits deep in your gut and this voice, dark and hoary, intoning. And then the guitars kick in and take over and all the while there are these drums just keeping the rhythm and driving your heartbeat. Or ‘Red Dust’ featuring Samba Toure on vocal over a distorted electronic storm and a heartbeat bassline.

The opener, ‘Stars Of Gao’, has an electronic background to a beautifully played ngoni with a heavy percussive drum and guitars that scream and wail in the back and leading in to the Tangerine Dream-like ‘Narha’ with a desperately beautiful vocal by Arminata Wassidje Traore.
The closing track ‘September 12’ is one of the best numbers I have heard this year: Ibrahima Douf, a youngster from Senegal, singing an ode to his grandmother – haunting and beautiful in turns.

Even though the core of Race and Eckman are the driving force there is a real sense of collaboration and democracy about the music – if the musicians weren’t all working for the same cause this would be an unholy mess. Instead it is magnificent.