Songhoy Blues: Music in Exile (Transgressive)

 |   |  1 min read

Songhoy Blues: Music in Exile (Transgressive)

With the sounds of Womad still ringing in our ears, this remarkable album might get more traction that it might otherwise have found.

That said however, this one also walks towards a mainstream audience more than most of what comes at us as world music.

It is focused, thrilling and very significant blues-rock from West Africa, although the yearning of the final two songs – Desert Melodie and Mali – are imbued with sadness that is palpable.

The educated men in this four-piece have been battered by displacement and violence of the Tuareg rebellion and the Islamic militants of al Qaida which have torn their country apart.

But -- as we find so often with world music -- when the musicians write and play they create something which educates and channels their energy and messages into taut and exciting music. It sometimes seems a world away from the more common hypnotic trance music of much desert/Sahara blues. 

It's easy to like world music when it sounds vaguely familiar from your own music history. But the world musicians have often come to that sound independent of the Western styles out of London, New York or Los Angeles.

Etran Finatawa, Tinariwen and others may have sounded like Delta bluesmen, but what drove it were very different circumstances.

A new generation of desert/Sahara blues artists however have grown up familiar with Hendrix and American blues. This band from the area between Timbuktu and Gao grew up with the Beatles, Hendrix, American r'n'b and hip-hop.

So if you hear elements of John Lee Hooker (Sekou Oumarou) or rock-blues in the exciting opener Soubour, you are probably right.

These guys are no primitives but sophisticated African blues-rock players. 

But the title tells you much more is going on here, there's a political dimension here which is also commanding and unique.

Whether you follow world music or not, this is just a damn fine and important album.

Incidentally, on the covermount CD with the latest Mojo magazine -- a tribute to Led Zeppelin -- Songhoy Blues offer their interpretaion of Kashmir. This is it.

Songhoy Blues: Kashmir



Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music from Elsewhere articles index

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

The enjoyable reissues of West African music by the Strut, Sound Way and Vampi Soul labels (Funky Lagos, Ghana Special, High Life and others) have brought back music from the Sixties and... > Read more

Kadialy Kouyate: Aado (Naxos/digital outlets)

Kadialy Kouyate: Aado (Naxos/digital outlets)

The west Africa string instrument the kora has a deliciously warm, trickling sound as heard on albums by its greatest practitioners like Seckou Keita and Toumani Diabate, and the new generation of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

PHILIP DADSON: SONICS FROM SCRATCH, a doco by SIMON OGSTON and ORLANDO STEWART

PHILIP DADSON: SONICS FROM SCRATCH, a doco by SIMON OGSTON and ORLANDO STEWART

Even if Philip Dadson's name is not as well known as it should be outside of academic and sonic art music areas, many New Zealanders would respond to just two words: From Scratch. The... > Read more

Sheep, Dog & Wolf: Two-Minds (bandcamp)

Sheep, Dog & Wolf: Two-Minds (bandcamp)

As we heard on Merk's recent album Infinite Youth, the landscape between adolescence and adulthood can be strange and difficult terrain. In that uncertain limbo, childhood is in retreat --... > Read more