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Ballaké Sissoko unveils intimate new album, A Touma

The Malian virtuoso returns for a close tête à tête with his kora, exploring Mandingo traditions, family history and Malian legends on eight tracks.

Taking time off from sessions tied to his latest album, Djourou, Ballaké Sissoko has recorded eight instrumental pieces in the intimate confines of the Chapelle Sainte-Apolline in Belgium. Together they proclaim the indisputable mastery and freedom that this humble giant of global music has displayed in his forty-year-long career. Though two of the pieces also featured on Djourou, this new album gathers all eight of the instrumentals in a musical conversation between a master, made of flesh, bones and spirit, and his ‘double,’ made of string and wood. 

The LP marks a captivating, intimate and authentic testament, recorded in one afternoon in which Ballaké takes us on a meandering, majestical trip that borders on the sacred, treading on serene meditative uplands as well as the historic plains criss-crossed by Mandingo warriors straight from the epics of the region’s proud heritage. On “Demba Kunda,” for example, the maestro takes us to his father’s Gambian village, while “Mande Tabolo” tells of the building of the Mande and “Simbo Salaba” marks a reinterpretation of a Mandingo warrior song. Ballaké is the best ambassador of this heritage. He recently featured on the famous COLORS show stage in Berlin for a performance of “Nan Sira Mad,” the song that opens the new album. As for the title track, “A Touma,” listeners can take it to mean “this is the moment:” the moment for Ballaké to share the fruits of his maturity, and for us to be blown away by the result.

Watch Ballaké below in a live session at the Palácio Duques de Cadaval in Évora, Portugal.

A Touma, out via No Format.

Ballaké Sissoko – Simbo Salaba & Djaoura | A Take Away Show