Mdou Moctar: Ilana; The Creator (Sahel Sounds)

 |   |  1 min read

Asshet Akal
Mdou Moctar: Ilana; The Creator (Sahel Sounds)

These days with so many artists trickling out singles and then maybe an album every few years, this Tuareg singer/guitarist from Niger has an admirable work ethic.

Although this is his first studio album he's clocked off a handful of live album including the soundtrack to a movie he was in which paid homage to Prince's Purple Rain and Perry Henzell's struggling central character Ivan (played by Jimmy Cliff) in Harder They Come.

And while he works with many of the familiar elements of desert blues in the manner of Etran Finatawa, Tinariwen and others (chant-style call'n'response vocals, mercurial guitar lines), by being younger and belatedly more influenced by Western rock (as are Tamikrest) this comes off as heavier and much more urgent.

And right from his debut album in 2008 he's always enjoyed the technology available, so here we get the full sonic palette from Moctar and his small band recorded in the Detroit studio.

It's not a stretch to hear the trickle-down of Hendrix and power trios in the scouring Asshet Akal, the sky-crying on the tantalising 90 second fragment Inizgam and especially on the seven and half minute Tarhatazed which sounds a bit like Eddie Van Halen working up his chops before the pounding rhythm section arrives and we are off on a furious psychedelic desert-rock journey.

To fully appreciate the messages here (some political, inevitably) you need to get the CD or vinyl, but if the loose description of the fiery contents here tempt you then find a stream and rack it up loud . . . all the way to the easy roll of the measured ballad Tumastin at the end of these pretty remarkable 40 minutes.

It's like going out on twilight surf music after the afternoon storm.

Share It

Your Comments

Graham - May 7, 2019

He seems to tour incessantly, so far only in the northern hemisphere, maybe Womad will pick up on him. His recent live album at Jack White's studio (out on Third Man Records) is pretty cool too.

Doug - Jun 19, 2019

I love this album! It’s hard to avoid the Tinariwen + Hendrix comparison, given his origin and the superb, blistering guitar, but that understates how original this sounds.

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Samuel Yirga; Guzo (Real World/Southbound)

Samuel Yirga; Guzo (Real World/Southbound)

With the Ethiopiques reissue series, the rediscovery of Mulatu Astatke, groups like Dub Colossus and Syriana, and singer Mahmoud Ahmed, the music of Ethipia has certainly garnered attention in... > Read more

TWO FOR THE WOMAD (2019): Introducing Dona Onete and Las Cafeteras

TWO FOR THE WOMAD (2019): Introducing Dona Onete and Las Cafeteras

Every Womad introduces artist you'd never heard of but afterwards feel you couldn't live without, and artists you feel you should have known about. In the latter category is the distinctive,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Coastal Trek Lodge, Vancouver Island, Canada: Where the wild things are

Coastal Trek Lodge, Vancouver Island, Canada: Where the wild things are

Halfway up the long, ever-climbing road where the numbers on the letterboxes are in the many thousands we see small flecks of white on the side of the road. Damn, but it is getting cold up here in... > Read more

THE ORANGE BALLROOM (2016): The dance begins again

THE ORANGE BALLROOM (2016): The dance begins again

The actual name of the place is the Orange Coronation Hall and it was the lodge for the Irish Protestant Orangemen in Auckland. But everyone knows it as the Orange Ballroom, the name apparently... > Read more