Tallawit Timbouctou – Hali Diallo (Sahel Sounds)


For Sahel Sounds quality is context. The music of Tallawit Timbouctou is the opposite of those Real World recordings, where the polish of the studio removed the heart and soul of the music. Here the guitar sound (well it’s not really guitar, rather it’s the tehardent, a traditional four-stringed lute that’s been electrified) is thin and insistent, these buzzing webs of riffs, constantly collapsing in on themselves in ever narrowing circles. It’s raw as hell, there’s apparently bass in there and of course Calabash percussion that sounds like castanets, with periodic vocal pronouncements.

It’s a traditional music from Northern Mali called Takamba that dates back centuries, though was electrified in the 80’s. It’s fascinating music. All extraneous elements have been stripped away, and all we’re left with is the adrenalin. Occasionally vocals appear yet they’re far back in the mix, like someone nearby just happened to be singing along, otherwise there’s the odd dedication at the beginning or end of a song. It feels like this is the way its meant to be, much like you wouldn’t want to put a punk rock band into those real world studios.

Recorded in Timbouctou by Sahel Sounds boss Chris Kirkley in 2011, the three piece Tallawit Timbouctou is led by Griot Agali Ag Amoumine, coming from a long line of musicians. It’s intense music, unrelenting, yet also quite hypnotic. That said it hits you like a train – perhaps due to the lack of frequency or tempo variation. This band appear to only know one way – pedal to the metal.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.