Malian Touareg outfit Tamikrest return with a second album that continues their foray into electric desert blues. The desert is of course the Sahara and this young ensemble are unashamedly influenced by the sound developed and crafted by their elder compatriots Tinariwen. Yet where Tinariwen’ most recent album saw them experimenting with unexpected US collaborators, Tamikrest’s departures from the formula are much subtler.
This isn’ too surprising as their first album demonstrated a relatively straight up approach to the genre. Yet here they’re really trying some variations and it pays off. There’ elements of reggae, psychedelia, even some ultra funky basslines amongst the meandering guitar lines and traditional Touareg chants.
The songs however are beautiful and poignant, the sparseness of the approach offering a certain gravity. Tamikrest’s leader, guitarist Ousmane Ag Mossa cites his early influences as Bob Marley and Dire Straits, and strange as it sounds once you know this information you can hear how he has incorporated these disparate influences, alongside traditional Touareg music into his songwriting.
Whilst there are songs about love and connection to the desert, the overwhelming message is about preservation of culture. In fact in the liner notes Ousmane Ag Mossa writes â€œThe Touareg want to live in freedom in their homeland and end this form of colonialisation, which has prevailed since fifty years.â€
Tamikrest carry the flame that Tinariwen lit, the mind boggles when you consider what they’ll be doing three or four albums down the track. Toumastin an early statement of socially conscious music that not only charts the struggle but demonstrates the myriad of possibilities inherent in the genre.
Bob Baker Fish