Sitting back and listening to the latest recording Kidal by Mali’s desert blues/rock group Tamikrest, I wondered if I would have even heard about the continuing struggles of the Tuareg and other desert peoples if it weren’t for the lush music spilling out of the Sahara by way of groups like Tamikrest and other musician groups like Terakaft, Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa or the powerful Sahrawi singer and musician Mariem Hassan. Sadly, I think few would even know that people live and travel these remote parts of the Sahara much less know about the struggle to maintain their nomadic identity if it weren’t for the music.
Fortunately for us Glitterbeat Records has got all the little music junkies out there covered with Tamikrest and their latest Kidal set for release on March 17th. Following up on previous recordings Adagh, Toumastin, Chatma and Taksera, Tamikrest again wraps up listeners in the familiar sleek guitars, rolling rhythms and meaty vocals on Kidal.
Recorded in Bamako, Mali, Kidal gets some extra special treatment with producer Mark Mulholland from Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra and mixer David Odlum who earned a Grammy for his work with the group Tinariwen. Two years in the making, Kidal is worth every single track.
Tamikrest leader Ousmane Ag Mossa says of the recording, “Kidal talks about dignity. We consider the desert as an area of freedom to live in. But many people consider it as just a market to sell multinational companies, and for me, that is a major threat to the survival of our nomadic people.”
Opening with those familiar desert blues riffs on “Mawarniha Tartit,” Tamikrest lays down a sound that’s hypnotic and driven. Packed with guitar, percussion and drums, Kidal kicks some serious rock riffs. Tracks like “Manhouy Inerizhan,” “War Toyed” and “War Tila Eridaran” are brilliantly fiery, but its tracks like slower and bluesy “Atwitas” that blow the listener away with its sleek, edgy guitar, laced in kora lines and roughed over vocals.
Kidal is chocked full of goodies like the acoustic guitar led “Tanakra,” the fabulously trippy and immensely satisfying “Ehad Wad Nadorhan” and the folksy, homey “Erres Hin Atouan” with its call and response vocals. There’s also the rocking “Adoutat Salilagh” and the sweetly worked closing track “Adad Osan Itibat” to satisfy all your desert blues/rock needs.
Kidal is power to the people through music and it doesn’t get any better than that.
Malian desert blues band Tinariwen has released a video advance of ‘Sastanàqqàm,’ the first single from the band’s upcoming new album, Elwan, scheduled for release released on February 10th 2017 on Wedge.
In 2014, Tinariwen stopped at Rancho de la Luna studios in the desert of California’s Joshua Tree National Park. Guitarist Matt Sweeny, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Vile, musician and vocalist Alan Johannes recorded sessions with the Malian band, engineered by Andrew Schepps, who has worked with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Johnny Cash, and Jay Z.
Two years later in M’Hamid El Ghizlane, an oasis in southern Morocco, near the Algerian frontier, Tinariwen set up their tents to record, accompanied by the local musical youth and a Ganga ensemble of Gnawa musicians.
Azel, the new album by Nigerien guitarist, singer-songwriter and composer Bombino has reached the top of the Transglobal World Music Chart in May 2016.
May 2016 Chart
1. Bombino – Azel (Partisan Records)
2. Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada (Glitterbeat Records)
3. Rokia Traoré – Né So (Nonesuch Records)
4. La Banda Morisca – Algarabya (Fol Música)
5. Konono Nº1 meets Batida – Konono Nº1 meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
6. Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha)
7. Fanfare Ciocărlia – Onwards to Mars! (Asphalt Tango Records)
8. The Gloaming – 2 (Real World Records)
9. Stefano Saletti & Banda Ikona – Soundcity – Finisterre
10. Katerina Tsiridou – Aman Katerina: A Tribute to Panayiotis Toundas (Protasis Music)
11. Sociedade Recreativa – Sociedade Recreativa (La Chaudière Production / Jarring Effects)
12. Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht – Dvojka (Glitterbeat Records)
13. V.A. – Every Song Has its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali (Glitterbeat Records)
14. Las Hermanas Caronni – Navega Mundos (Les Grands Fleuves)
15. Anoushka Shankar – Land of Gold (Deutsche Grammophon)
16. DagaDana – Meridian 68 (Karrot Kommando)
17. Sidestepper – Supenatural Love (Real World Records)
18. Elza Soares – The Woman at the End of the World / A Mulher do Fim do Mundo (Mais Um Discos)
19. Karsh Kale – Up (Six Degrees Records)
20. Päre – Hausjärvi Beat (Zebo Records)
21. 2016: Afro Celt Sound System – The Source (ECC Records)
22. Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus – Al Viento (InFiné)
23. Pulsar Trio – Cäthes traum (T3 Records)
24. Filippo Gambetta – Otto Baffi (Filippo Gambetta)
25. Eva Salina – Lema Lema: Eva Salina Sings Šaban Bajramović (Vogiton Records)
26. Manuel Volpe & Rhabdomantic Orchestra – Albore (Agogo Records)
27. Zulya and the Children of the Underground – On Love and Science (Zulya and the Children of the Underground)
28. Amsterdam Klezmer Band – Oyoyoy (Amsterdam Klezmer Band)
29. Vesevo – Vesevo (Agualoca Records)
30. Michael Messer’s Mitra – Call of the Blues (Knife Edge Records)
31. Osei Korankye – Seperewa of Ghana: Ɛmmerɛ nyina nsɛ (Akwaaba Music)
32. Vigüela – Temperamento (ARC Music)
33. Ex aequo:
Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina – De Cerca (Universal Music Spain)
Galandum Galundaina – Quatrada (Açor)
35. Claudia Aurora – Mulher do Norte (Red Orange Recordings)
36. Joseph Tawadros – World Music (Joseph Tawadros)
37. Rocky Marsiano – Meu Kamba Vol. Dois (Akwaaba Music)
38. Kimi Djabaté – Kanamalu (Red Orange Recordings)
39. Seheno – Hazo Kely (Lokanga)
40. Afenginn – Opus (Tutl / Westpark Music)
In 2007, several Tuareg groups rebelled in Niger and in Mali. It was the not the very first instance of Tuareg rebellion in Niger and in Mali and the same had happened and belongs to a history of Tuareg rebellion in the region. The Tuareg are an ambitious people forever in search of a new political reality and the project can only influence their cultural ambitions.
Tuaregs produce many great musicians and one of them is Bombino. Bombino’s most recent album Azel, released on Partisan Records on April 1, is an album abundant in beautiful guitar playing. The fact that Bombino sings as he plays the guitar makes this an album that will be partially misunderstood by any English speaker, unless if the songs’ Tamasheq (Tuareg language) lyrics are translated. However, it is possible to be fully invested in this album without understanding the lyrics.
The album’s abundance of guitar playing is the most striking part of the whole affair and delivers an incredible experience for the listener. The word abundance is generally used to denote a very large quantity of something in a positive way; an abundance of anything alludes to an amount of wealth.
Abundance can get very close to being saturation and is a balancing act if being purposely produced. In music, when it’s good, an abundance of anything is celebrated by most. Minimalism is often applauded by professional critics but never as popular as rhythmic, melodic, harmonic abundance, or the abundance of a single instruments participation in a song. It’s hard to pull off however and can become very annoying.
An economy of instrument playing is easier to pull off. In the societies of less developed countries, a song’s abundance can make heroes of out certain musicians: an abundance of chords or poetry in a song’s lyrics can momentarily change day to day morbidity or hardship or affirm one’s existence.
This album is not what is expected from Tuareg music and it’s clear that Bombino did not want this album to be. Bombino combines American idioms with African string playing. He does this with erudition and by never once seeming not confident in his aesthetic.
Renowned Tuareg guitarist and songwriter, Koudede died on Sunday, October 28th of 2012 in a car crash on his way home to his family in Niamey, Niger. Koudede was well-known and respected in the Tuareg music scene for his solo work and participation in the groups Ishumar and Inerane.
Born in Agadez (Niger), Koudede grew up in Arlit, in northern-central Niger, between the foothills of the Ayar (Aïr ) Mountains and the sands of the Sahara. He made his first guitar from a tin can. By the time he held a real guitar, he was good enough to accompany musicians such as Abdallah Oumbadougou (Takrist ‘n’ Akal).
After spending time in Algeria and Libya, he moved to Agadez, known as the Tuareg capital, and in typical nomadic fashion started to travel around the Sahel region, following the calendar of family celebrations and community festivals.
He played for a time with other Tuareg musicians before composing and performing his own original songs. He came to the notice of the public for the first time at the ‘Cure Salée’ festival (‘salt cure’).
Koudede’s music was based on a traditional ternary rhythmic structure originated from the ‘tende’ – the Tuareg drum, which is played stretched across two pieces of horizontal wood. Initially, Koudede used his guitar like the ‘tehardent’ (three string lute), but eventually he took advantage of the full harmonic range of his guitar, developing his own individual style.
Koudede’s lyrics were based in Tuareg poetry, which recounted primarily what the traveler sees around him. Koudede’s songs were arranged in the form of repeated refrains, picking up and developing proverbs, advice or parables over the course of the verses. His songs spoke of young married life; camels; virtues such as patience; children’s games; of distant Tuareg camps and difficult loves. Sometimes there was anger – against cowardice, laziness, corruption or unjust wars.
Tuareg band Tidawt will perform on Monday, September 22 at the Highline Ballroom in New York. Doors open at 7pm. Tidawt, meaning together, was started by Hasso Akotey in Niger in 1994. They played for the opening of “The Art of Being Tuareg”, the first major US museum exhibit on the Tuareg which opened at the Fowler museum UCLA in 2006 and at Stanford in May 2007. They were also featured in the 2003 Festival in the Desert film and soundtrack.
In 2006 they were invited to be a part of the project “Stones World” and recorded with the Rolling Stones at Capitol Records in Los Angeles. In 2007 they played with Mickey Hart at Slim’s in San Francisco. Their first CD was released in 2008.
The traditional costumes of a Tidawt performance are visually stunning. The iridescent Indigo turbans turn their skin blue. Because of this, the Tuareg are known as the Blue men of the desert. The group is devoted to the guitar, their music and the preservation of their culture.
This is evidenced by the tours Tidawt has done to raise consciousness and funds for their people through the projects of the Nomad Foundation. Together, they are committed to the survival of the rich Tuareg culture.
There will also be a film screening of “Amanei, Touareg entre dunes et montagnes at 8PM. General Admission Seated Show. All Ages First come, first seated. $10 min per person at tables. Full dinner menu available.
The Highline Ballroom is located at:
431 W 16th St
New York, NY 10011
between 9th and 10th Ave