Blur’s Damon Albarn is playing music in Mali with The Wire and Luther star Idris Elba. The odd British duo is in the middle of a weeklong trip to Bamako, the country’s capital, where they’ll jam out with Brian Eno, Holy Other, Ghostpoet, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, and a number of Malian musicians at a local community center. Reportedly, the massive group is trying to lay down tracks for a record. The whole thing’s part of Albarn’s African Express initiative that, just last year, had celebrities like Paul McCartney and John Paul Jones touring the continent via train.

On Oct. 19, Albarn, Zinner, Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, and members of both Django Django and The Noisettes will play an Africa Express benefit show in Marseilles, France.


Albarn says he chose to go to Mali to record for this year’s project because of the country’s recent troubles, when Islamist and Tuareg rebels seized the northern part of the nation before being driven out by a French-backed government offensive.