Damon Albarn recording with 'Luther' actor Idris Elba in Mali

Blur frontman takes Africa Express project to Bamako with musicians including Brian Eno and Nick Zinner

Damon Albarn recording with 'Luther' actor Idris Elba in Mali

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME

Blur's Damon Albarn is recording in Mali with Luther and The Wire actor Idris Elba.

Albarn is in Bamako, the capital of Mali, as part of the Africa Express project working alongside African artists and western artists, including producer Brian Eno. The organisers behind the musical project chose Mali following a troubled 2012 for the country, which saw the northern part seized by Islamists and Tuareg rebels before a French-backed government offensive intervened.

Speaking to The Observer about his arrival in the country, Albarn says. "I keep coming back to Mali, through everything that's happened. At times it has felt odd in Bamako, with the problems in the north, but I'm just trying to personally establish dialogue with the people in this country and the music."

The artists are working in Maison des Jeunes, a community centre in the capital, with Ghostpoet , Holy Other and Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs all involved. The report from the recording sessions suggests the group are trying to make the first Africa Express album.

This summer, Damon Albarn reportedly confirmed that Blur will record a new album following the release of his forthcoming solo LP.

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