Agadez (Cumbancha, 2011)
Omara “Bombino” Moctar has cornered cool on his latest Agadez out on the Cumbancha label today. Edgy, slyly hip and wholly powerful Agadez defines that fiery combination of Tuareg folk music and desert blues similarly expressed by such groups as Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa. Finding inspiration in the music of Ali Farka Toure, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Tinariwen, Bombino’s sound comes across clean, fresh and original as he plies the listener with original compositions and his sleek guitar lines.
Only thirty years old and already Bombino has seen rebellion come, go and return once again, lived in exiled, fought along with other Tuareg rebels, snagged an extra role in a French film, appeared in a Spanish documentary, recorded a track with Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards and Charlie Watts and lost two band members to the rebellion. Now that the second Tuareg rebellion has come to an end and the Tuareg are free to return to Niger, Bombino is finally able to settle back into the music business once again after his 2009 recording Guitars from Agadez Volume 2 under the name Group Bombino.
Recorded in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Agadez, Niger with the help of producer Ron Wyman and fellow musicians guitarist Kawissan Mohamed, drummer Ibrahim Emoud Atchinguil, bass guitarist Ed Lucie, rhythm guitarist Chris Decato, calabash player Ghissa Tshoda and percussionist Mohamed Serge, Agadez is brimming over with a savage coolness. Opening with the haunting, open sky and desert feel track “Ahoulaguine Akaline,” Agadez taps into a groove so fine as to be utterly captivating.
Whether it’s slipping in a bit of funk on “Tar Hani” or the shimmer of unexpected poignancy on “Adounia,” Bombino’s masterful guitar lines and quiet vocals against that ever persistent rolling rhythm make for a captivating combination. The stand out track on Agadez has to be the hypnotic “Iyat Idounia Ayashen.” With meaty percussion, labyrinthine guitar lines and the occasional free wheeling ululation, this track sizzles. Closing with the bright traditional tune “Tebsakh Dalet,” Bombino dips into an acoustic sweetness that is pure joy.
Agadez is ferociously good.
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