Tidane Thiam – Siftorde (Sahel Sounds)


This gorgeous solo acoustic guitar album from Northern Senegal provides a remarkable calming effect on the listener. It was recorded late at night with a single microphone, in 2014 in Podor Northern Senegal and you can sometimes hear the crickets in the background.

Tidane Thiam is a photographer, visual artist, though also a folklorist and he draws upon folk traditions in his guitar playing. His self taught fingerpicking draws upon the music of the Sahel, though his technique is apparently inspired by the four stringed hoddu. There are some quite spellbinding moments of gentle low key brilliance as he dips in and out of earshot, at times riffing on a single note, or at others complex runs of riffs. It’s difficult to draw reference points but if you imagine Ali Farka Toure crossed with John Fahey you’re getting close.

Thiam has already played on a couple of Sahel Sounds releases, 2011’s Yiilo Jaam from Lewlewal de Podor, where he was part of a six piece band that periodically moved into electric territory, and the similarly beguiling and hypnotic Waande Kadde with Amadou Binta Konte (you can read our review here). What Siftorde demonstrates is that Thiam doesn’t need anyone else. The music feels so incredibly relaxed and that’s what makes it so powerful. It’s raw and beautiful, and it feels like you are witnessing something deeply personal and rare.


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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.