Mdou Moctar: Funeral for Justice (digital outlets)

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Imouhar
Mdou Moctar: Funeral for Justice (digital outlets)

In a recent talk about reviewing, the role of the critic and being curious about music, I said something to the effect that music is a great passport into places and worlds hitherto unknown. 

I said when I heard the Beatles as a newly-minted teenager I found out as much as I could about Liverpool, when reggae arrived I immersed myself in Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jamaica, Rastafarianism, Marcus Garvey and so on.

The curiosity has taken me to all points on the globe (sometimes literally) and in more recent times when I heard the extraordinary Mdou Moctar – the name of the band but also that of its frontman singer-guitarist Mahamadou Souleymane AKA Mdou Moctar – I was on my way to West Africa.

The convenient shorthand for Mdou Moctar -- whom we have encountered previously -- involves citing Jimi Hendrix. But where Hendrix largely avoided politics and aimed for the planets, Mdou Moctar are afforded no such luxury.

They come from Niger where there was a military coup last year – stranding the band in the States –and a legacy of French imperialism, Russian troops currently embedded, volatile Islamic fundamentalists and subsistence existence.

Mdou Moctar are of the nomadic Berber people, the Tuareg, like the more familiar groups Tinariwen, Etran Finatawa, Tamikrest and others whose music has been labelled Sahara blues or desert blues.

Moctar however start with amps on overdrive, and an unfiltered, righteous and understandable anger.

From the title and cover art inward – with only a couple of more familiar Sahara blues pieces – this burns with white-hot intensity, the guitars deployed like rocket launchers.

You won't understand a word, but Funeral for Justice is utterly thrilling psychedelicized blues-rock.

Essential for Guitar Player subscribers.

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You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here


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