Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn's collaboration with musicians from Mali will be released July 30 in North America via Honest Jon's/Astralwerks. The album, "Mali Music," is an attempt to introduce

Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn's collaboration with musicians from Mali will be released July 30 in North America via Honest Jon's/Astralwerks. The album, "Mali Music," is an attempt to introduce Western audiences to the diverse music of the culturally rich West African country. The 16-track set was released last month internationally, with proceeds benefiting the Oxfam charity organization.

"Mali Music" began to take shape in July 2000, when Albarn traveled to the country as part of Oxfam's awareness-raising "On the Line" project and began interacting with the country's artists. He brought along recording equipment and a melodica and spent weeks touring the capital, Bamako, and its surrounding villages, playing with and recording music by the likes of Afel Bocoum, Toumani Diabate, Lobi Traore, Kasse Mady Diabate, and Ko Kan Ko Sata Doumbia.

Albarn brought the tapes back to London after his journey and fleshed out the tracks with rock, electronica, and reggae flourishes. "My idea is to set up loads of dialogues between this music and other music that I love," Albarn said in a statement about the project. "I'm sick of the cultural self-assurance you get in the West. I want to get everyone into Malian music."

Royalties will again be donated to Oxfam, whose stated goal is to seek out "lasting solutions to poverty and suffering around the world." For more information about Oxfam and the Mali project, visit the organization's official Web site.

Blur is at work on its next Virgin studio album, which will be the follow-up to 1999's "13." As previously reported, the band backs Marianne Faithfull on "Kissin' Time," the title track to her new Virgin set, due Aug. 13.