Ahmed Ag Kaedy – Akaline Kidal (Sahel Sounds)


Malian guitarist Ahmed Ag Kaedy is best known for having founded the band Amanar de Kidal (Sahel Sounds) in 2005 – their name coming from their hometown Kidal in North East Mali, though he has also worked with Mali heavyweights Fatoumata Diawara and Samba Touré.

He currently resides in the Mali capital Bamako due to threats from extremists and social and political instability.

Amanar de Kidal’s music is electric, desert blues, high energy, lush compositions, yet Akaline Kidal is anything but. Ahmed Ag Kaedy’s solo outing is acoustic, low key, pared down to voice and acoustic guitar. We’ve been told that Tuareg music isn’t necessarily electric, there are traditional folk origins, though we’ve heard precious little of it in the west outside of Mdou Moctar’s Sousoume Tamachek and Les Filles de Illighadad both released on Portland label Sahel Sounds.

This is hypnotic music, these intricate acoustic guitar webs punctuated by subdued vocals. It evokes lazy afternoons under a tree in the desert, which is a little ironic as it was recorded onto 8-track cassette tape in a basement studio in Portland, Oregon. It was recorded in continuous single takes and you can tell, just press record and let Ag Kaedy go. Some music you need to devote yourself to, to note the nuances or else you lose the effect. This is not that kind of music. You can just let this wash over you, and it is cleansing. It’s the kind of music you can listen to on repeat for hours without even really noticing. This is almost medicinal music; it makes everything better when it is on.


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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.