Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali



  • CD + DVD Album
    Compact Disc (CD)

    An out-of-time, visceral collection of songs & sounds from Bamako-based producer Paul Chandler’s unparalleled archive.
    These high fidelity field recordings and eleven accompanying videos (from all corners of the country) take us deep inside the full sonic power of the Malian musical experience.
    18.75 EUR
  • 2 x LP – 12” Vinyl + DVD

    An out-of-time, visceral collection of songs & sounds from Bamako-based producer Paul Chandler’s unparalleled archive. These high fidelity field recordings and eleven accompanying videos (from all corners of the country) take us deep inside the full sonic power of the Malian musical experience.




1. Le Souvenir
Group Ekanzam
Instruments: Tindé, Water Calabash, Clapping
Musical Genre: Ekanzam, Ergassay Celebration music
Zone: Meneka, Gao

2. Taganraratt
Group Tagout
Instrument: Tehardent (Lute)
Musical Genre: Kel Tamasheq Djinn Possession Music, Issouwatt Music
Zone: Gao

3. Nianju Wardè (Walk in a Way That Shows We Are Important)
Kimsy Bocoum, Afel Bocoum, Hama Sankare
Instruments: Sokou (Violin), Calabash (Gourd Drum)
Musical Genre: Peul Seygalaré Music
Zone: Niafunke, Timbuktu

4. Houmeïssa (The Gold Chain)
Super Onze
Instruments: Amplified Kurbu (Lute), Calabash (Gourd Drum)
Musical Genre: Songhai Celebration Music
Zone: Gao

5. Taka Kadi (That Adventurer’s Song)
Boukader Coulibaly
Instrument: Danh (6 String Harp)
Musical Genre: Bambara voyager’s music
Zone: Mopti (But found all over West Africa)

6. N’Djaba (The Person I Love)
Bina Koumaré & Madou Diabate
Instruments: Sokou (African Violin), Jeli N’goni (African Lute)
Musical Genre: Bambara
Zone: Pélengana (Segou) & Niono (Segou)

7. Apolo (Do Not Give Your Daughter to a Coward)
Mianka Cultural Troupe
Instruments: Buru (Elk Horn), Djembe, Konkoni, Closhe
Musical Genre: Mianka Ethnic Group, Greeting Nobility, Important announcements
Zone: Koutiala, Sikasso

8. Kabako (Incredible)
Kassoun Bagayoko
Instrument: Bambara (Cultivator’s) Balafon
Musical Genre: Bambara Cultivator’s Music
Zone: Diamou, Sikasso

9. Donzo Fasa (Praise for the Hunter)
Sidiki Coulibaly
Instrument: Simbi (Malinké Hunters Harp)
Musical Genre: Malinke Hunters Music
Zone: Siby (Koulikoro), Mandé Country

10. Sidi Modibo (Hommage to the Marabout – Saint Sidi Modibo)
Inna Baba Coulibaly
Instruments: Hoddu (Peul Lute), Calabash
Musical Genre: Peul
Zone: Northern Koulikoro (Ouagadou)
11. Sigui lé (It’s the Wild Buffalo)
Cultural Troupe from Nioguébougoula
Instruments: Djembe, Konkoni
Musical Genre: Bari, Sigui Mask Dance Rhythm
Zone: Wassoulou

12. Woyika (The Sorrow)
Ibrahim Traoré
Instrument: Bolon (Malinké Warriors Harp)
Musical Genre: Malinké Warrior’s Music
Zone: Mandé Country, Southern Mali

“If these instruments no longer exist, then we will have lost everything. I do not know how we will pass on our history, because the music itself permits us to know our past, to help us live, even today…it is our culture which will die.” — Afel Bocoum/Malian musician

Mali’s traditional life, customs and art forms (musical and otherwise) are in a steady process of decline. Bamako, the country’s vibrant capital, is the fastest growing urban expanse in Africa and the rapid turn of young people from the village to the city, has profoundly affected the value placed on Mali’s ancient musical traditions (musical instruments, songs, oratory, and dance). The repositories of these traditions (elders, artisans, musicians, dancers, healers) are finding it increasingly difficult to transmit their arts to the ascendant, transitory generation.

Bamako-based producer/educator Paul Chandler has been documenting the sonic and cultural complexities of Malian traditional music for more than a decade and “Every Song Has Its End” is an out-of-time, visceral collection of sounds from Chandler’s unparalleled archive. Echoes of these sounds can of course be heard in the urbanized Malian music that has been embraced throughout the world, but the songs, ritual soundscapes and accompanying images found here are undoubtedly more raw, foundational and filled with surprise than the Malian music we are accustomed to.

Over the past few years, accompanied by a recording engineer and a video-maker, Chandler has ventured to off-the-grid villages and crossroad towns all across the vast Malian landscape. Through a network of long-nurtured local contacts this small team has sought out practicing traditional musicians and their under-documented and often endangered musics. Immersive and exhilarating, these field recordings and videos give us a privileged glimpse into the intricacies of the Malian musical experience.

The tracks on “Every Song Has Its End” are in fact as varied as the land that they come from. The haunting modulations of the mostly female Group Ekanzam and the spiky, electrified drone of Super Onze were both recorded in Mali’s remote and embattled northeastern desert region. Conversely, the hypnotic, pulsing sounds of the Mianka Cultural Troupe’s elk horns (buru) and Ibrahim Traore’s warrior harp (bolon) have been recorded more than 1,500 kilometres away in Mali’s more verdant southern hill country. Some of the musicians are playing music that is tied to a specific traditional caste or village function. The declamatory “hunters” music of Sidiki Coulibaly and the “cultivator” balafon excursions of Kassoun Bagayoko are examples of this. And one track in particular, Sigui lé (It’s the Wild Buffalo) from the Nioguébougoula Cultural Troupe, seems to operate in a realm beyond mere music. The recording is a layered, 3D window into traditional village life, the “audience” and the “performers” interacting and fusing in a way that upends contemporary musical hierarchies.

When asked what compelled him to make these distinctive recordings, Paul Chandler offered this:

I realized that this stuff was quite precious and was starting to disappear…there are traditional instruments and there is music that is played in a traditional context…and while there are a lot of Malians playing music, music played in a traditional context, for ritual, for ceremony, to accompany activities in the village, that is becoming more rare…”

While it is ultimately impossible for us to fully grasp the cultural context and depth of the recordings on

“Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali,” it also seems nearly impossible not to be hooked in by the mesmeric sound culture that they mirror. Without doubt, this is Malian music at its finest.

The album/DVD package is available in the following formats: CD+DVD, Double 180gm vinyl +DVD and digital download/streaming.