San Francisco, California, USA –
Traveling across Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Western Sahara, The Rough Guide
To The Music Of The Sahara (RGNET1153CD) encompasses the hauntingly beautiful
and dramatically different sounds of the desert. Compiled by Saharan music
expert Andy Morgan, this album features driving desert rock and roll, Moorish
traditions and remarkable guitar music.
Including the magnificent desert blues of BBC award-winners
Tinariwen and the funky traditional sound of Kel Tin Lokiene among other
outstanding performers, this album celebrates the diversity of Saharan musical
culture. Since the first Festival in the Desert in 2001, Tinariwen have toured the globe
and the outside world has woken up to their searing skeletal brand of desert
blues. From a region known as the Adrar des Iforas, in the northeastern corner
of Mali, Tinariwen were the ‘pied pipers’ of the so-called ishumaren movement in
the early 1990s, which returned from exile in Algeria and Libya to launch a
rebellion. ‘Alkhar Dessouf is a irresistibly moody song about love and
Led by the charismatic Fadimata ‘Disco’ Walett Oumar, Tartit Ensemble are
Tuaregs from the Kel Antessar tribe that has held sway in the deserts around
Timbuktu for centuries. During the Tuareg rebellion of the early 1990s,
thousands escaped into refugee camps in Mauritania, where Tartit was formed.
Tartit have since toured Europe and become the world’s most famous ambassadors
of traditional Tuareg music. Comprising mostly of women, the group also includes
a few men, such as the singer Mohamed Ag Abada, who performs with haunting
effect on ‘Ikruhuwaten’.
One of Mauritania’s most remarkable up-and-coming young stars,
Malouma has forged a name for herself as an innovative bandleader and an
outspoken female voice. Mixing jazz, blues, rock and soul, with the wildest
Mauritanian sounds, she creates a stunningly original new mix. ‘Jraad’ is from
her second album, Dunya, which was recorded in the capital Nouakchott and
released to global acclaim in 2003.
From Erfoud, the capital of the Tafilalet (in the far northwest of the Sahara),
Compagnie Jellouli & Gdih play a style of music known as al baldi, in which the
elegance of Andalusian melodies is coupled with the blazing intensity of Berber
music from the Atlas and the harrowing lyricism of popular malhoun poetry.
Hasna El Becharia lives in Bechar, a dust-blown town on the northern edge of the
Sahara. Doyenne of the diwan style (North African music focusing around the
songs, rhythms and melodies of black African slaves and migrants), queen of the
vibrant local wedding-music scene, virtuoso of various Afro-Maghrebi
instruments, the jaunty tune ‘Hakmet Lakdar’ sums up her Afro-Berber-Arabic
heritage very well.
Sahraoui Bachir is one of the leading cheikhs (improvising male poets and
singers) of sahraoui music – a Berber music of the northern desert fringes in
Algeria. His vocal style is stark and powerful; it is a sound that sums up the
Sahara, in all its fearful, harsh, yet seductive beauty.
The Timbuktu region is a trove of musical treasures and over the years it has
thrown up many Songhai musicians of international report. The young Songhai
singer Seckou Maiga is a local musical hero who has established himself as a
serious contender and ‘Malta Sibori’ is the title track from his 2002 album.
Another group from the area are Kel Tin Lokiene, led by Hami Ag Akreirou. The
members of this fifteen-strong troupe delve deep into the funky yet diamond-hard
heart of traditional Tuareg music and their subject matter is often dominated by
tales of old heroes and warriors.
Agadez in northern Niger rivals Timbuktu in terms of historical and political
importance and Groupe Oyiwane is a local group that has existed for two decades.
Led by Balla ‘Ban-no’ Kader, their music is based on the traditional rhythm of
the tinde drum, which is itself based on the loping gait of the camel.
This album also includes Arab-flavored melodies from the powerful and youthful
group Chet Fewet and music from the leading lights of the Saharawi movement (the
Saharawi people are from the vast deserts that line the Atlantic coast south of
Morocco), Aziza Brahim, Nayim Alal and