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According to the liner notes of “Electro Bamako,” a collaboration between Mamai Keita, a former singer in Salif Keita’s band (no relation), and French producer Marc Minelli, this album presents “Malian songs mixed with electro jazz on pop structures but with a rock sound.” Translation: slick, hip music with genuine inspiration from Mali.

A cynic might dismiss this as the product of yet another foreigner exploiting Mali’s music. True enough, this impoverished West African country has been a very popular destination for those in need of a muse. Several years ago Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure recorded the intense “Talking Timbuktu,” and recently Bonnie Rait, Robert Plant, Damon Albarn and Roswell Rudd have all explored Mali’s bluesy sounds — and who could blame them. Meanwhile, going in the other direction, Issa Bagayogo’s recent “Timbuktu” showed that a Malian was perfectly capable of presenting his music in a way that could move bodies on dance floors abroad.

Minelli, however, never set foot in Mali until after this record was made. According to an interview on the album’s Web page, he just worked with guitar and voice tapes, cut, looped and mixed on his computer, focusing on sound and color rather than context.

Though the approach may sound unsanctimonious, it results in some interesting moments. On “N’ka Willy,” the album’s opener, listeners get a jolt when the voice of Norma Desmond (from the classic film “Sunset Boulevard”) repeatedly snaps, “I’m not young and vulnerable like my young husband was — but never mind about that!” Less bizarre are the samples of kids playing outdoors on “Demisenoun,” their laughter adding another dimension to Minelli’s cheerful singing. In addition to the samples, “Electro” features several Malian instruments and rhythms that give the tunes a muscular feel and contrast well with some of the more flaccid elements in the mix. On “Abdoulayi Djodo” the circular patterns of Malian guitar tear through the limp piano intro, propelling the tune forward. But that’s not to say that the African elements save this record. The golden-toned trumpet sample that opens “Laydou” sets up Keita with the regal entrance she deserves while a heavily effected electric bass fills out a massive, squishy bottom.

The liner notes of “Electro” ask listeners to stop thinking of West African music as folk music. A better idea is to think of it not simply as folk music, and this album certainly succeeds in doing that.

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