September 19, 2002

Ethics Are A Blur

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It would be easy to simply state how blissfully appealing and brilliantly enjoyable this disc, Mali Music, is at every listen. But to do so would not only spew out overused adjectives; it would be to overlook some crucial points that are tied to albums of this sort — the sticky and risky realm of “world music.” There is an innate difficulty and ethical dilemma in marketing this sort of thing. For instance, Paul Simon, whose Graceland is hailed by many as a masterpiece, is criticized by others for opportunistic musical misappropriation. Similar charges have already been brought against Damon Albarn, who masterminded this project. His name is on the case, and there is little room to mistake it for some anthropological field recording. He is not hiding the fact that this is his album as much as it is Mali’s. Why then the name? There may seem a great deal of na