Album review: Tamikrest, Chatma

By Graham Reid

1 comment

More than a decade ago what became known as "Sahara blues" or "desert blues" - the mesmerising sound of mercurial guitar, drone-like vocals and rolling rhythms - floated into consciousness via bands such as Etran Finatawa and Tinariwen, and great female singer Malouma, out of North Africa. The next generation are represented by Terakaft and Tamikrest who have more obvious Western rock influences. With longtime producer Chris Eckman (a one-time member of the Willard Grant Conspiracy), Tamikrest bring their hypnotic sound together with dub reggae textures, left-field folk and white-heat guitar work to match the politics of a region scarred by radical Islamists, warfare and unemployment. This, their third album is a volatile if sometimes melancholy mix of all the above where traditional instruments (calabash, djembe) boil in the pot alongside those stinging and sinuous guitars. Their themes pertain to their world - the suffering and oppression of women, souls battered by hardship, dignity and hope amid the perils - but these become universal concerns. The production, which allows psychedelic/prog-rock passages, may not be to everyone's taste, but marginalise this at your peril. It's much more.

Stars: 4.5/5
Verdict: A local struggle given universal voice

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