96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; Globe Music GM003 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

‘World Music’ is a catch-all genre covering a wide and deep territory and Mali In Oak is among the best of the cultural hybrid variety. This gloriously happy blend of traditional Malian music is updated and westernised by performers who themselves are cross-cultural phenoms, including kora player Tunde Jegede, of Nigerian/Irish ancestry, and South African guitarist Derek Gripper. Gripper manages to interpolate melodies for the 21-string kora to the six-string western classical guitar, and also to accompany the kora when used as a lead instrument. This album is the first recording by the pair, and their interplay is marvellous to experience – simultaneously serene, contemplative, and uplifting. Substantive yet never heavy, every track is intellectually engaging and emotionally nourishing – a rarity when most albums achieve that with only two or three tracks. BW

Sound Quality: 90%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

Tracks 1, 5, 6 and 11 would appear to have been recorded at a different time (or recorded/mixed on an alternate desk) because they are free of the unusual step in noise at 20kHz on 2, 3, 4... etc [black]. But will you hear the difference? PM