“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.