Torodi (Sahel Sounds), the 2015 album from Niger artist Hama, created solely off a Yamaha PSR-64 keyboard was a revelation. Transposing traditional Tuareg folk music from guitar to keyboard, it sounded like nothing else around. It was a raw, minimal and hypnotic work that belied its minimal ingredients.
Four year later, and Hama’s trusty Yamaha has since perished in a fire, so he’s found himself on Fruity Loops, and the result is a much broader sound palette. Actually the result is a world away. His label is calling it synthwave, but to be honest it’s really difficult to classify it. It’s lush, bombastic, with gurgling electrics, synthetic oscillations and artificial snares. It’s quite repetitive, slightly reminiscent of Tuareg guitar riffing, yet its blissed out, synthetic lush electronica. It’s clearly coming from a non-western electronic tradition – yet upon listening its not immediately apparent which one.
Context is so important for this release. It doesn’t sound like anything on Sahel Sounds. You’d probably believe me if I said it was late 80’s German komische, or perhaps an electronica producer from the early 00’s. You probably wouldn’t believe however if I said it’s from a full time driver for an expat, from the Republic of Niger, making music on Fruity Loops in his spare time.
The scope of this album is breathtaking. As with Torodi, Hama has gone out and created a work totally unique, and totally distinctive that again sounds like nothing else around.