One of the more mysterious and exciting tracks that we have come across lately is “Naked Venus,” the new single by a Malian band called Black Mango. Little information exists about the identity of the band members or how exactly this song got recorded. What is clear is that this is a distinctly Malian take on a song by one of the most important groups of American popular (or not so popular) music, the Velvet Underground. The one credited member of the band is Zoumana Tereta, the renowned soku (single-stringed fiddle) player, who has shown up on recent releases by Afropop favorites Bassekou Kouyate and Samba Touré.
This song is a rather different experience from Tereta’s typical output. Based on the Velvet Underground song “Venus in Furs,” “Naked Venus” repeats a mesmerizing dirge-like melody, with Tereta’s playing becoming increasingly frenzied as it goes along. Although the song leaves out “Venus in Furs”’ lyrics, the group’s anonymity could be due to the original song’s subject matter. Based on the Austrian novella of the same name, the song contains references to the taboo sexual practices of S&M and BDSM. The original track features the unique combination of Lou Reed’s ostrich guitar tuning with the piercing sound of John Cale’s viola. Black Mango’s reimagining is almost more captivating than the Velvets’ version, with traditional Malian instruments adding an otherworldly feel to the song’s already heavy sound. “Naked Venus” is available from Glitterbeat Records as a limited edition 10″ single. Listen below: