The Sons (And Daughters) Of The Desert: A Tuareg & Gnawa Music Thread

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Two very different musical traditions from the Sahara desert. I'm currently obsessed with both the new Innov Gnawa album (on Daptone) and the new Mdou Moctar album (on Matador), but I've been listening to this stuff since I heard Pharoah Sanders' album with Maleem Mahmoud Ghania, The Trance of Seven Colors, in 1994. Then, when I worked for a world music magazine from 2005-2008, I became obsessed with singer Mariem Hassan, and was also drawn into the "desert blues" world via Tinariwen (of course), but also Tartit, Tamikrest, and Etran Finatawa.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 1 May 2021 23:43 (one week ago) link

Mariem Hassan, "Magat Milkitna Dulaa," from Deseos (2005). I pulled this CD out of a stack with no idea what it was and it unscrewed the top of my head like a jar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mt0k3ACgEs

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 1 May 2021 23:48 (one week ago) link

Maleem Mahmoud Ghania with Pharoah Sanders, "La Allah Dayim Moulenah," from The Trance of Seven Colors (1994). The opening track. Still one of the most amazing things I've ever heard. I interviewed Bill Laswell once and asked him about this album (he produced it).

I remember we took a lot of equipment to North Africa and in those days it wasn’t small or easy to carry. It was pretty heavy, pretty overweight, pretty bulky, and it was a big operation. We took all this gear not to a village, it was a city, but on the water, Essaouaria, and we thought we had it all covered, and then there was a power surge or shortage, so while we were recording, we could see the meters but we couldn’t actually monitor the sound. So we didn’t even know what was on these digital tapes until we got home. It was pretty scary. But it was with a full 16-track digital setup, with expensive microphones and very heavy gear to carry. Very expensive to do, but the end result, you know, everything did translate and it was well recorded. As opposed to people that go with a cassette machine and then they wonder why nobody’s listening to the record 10 years later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CA8DkfN3R0

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 1 May 2021 23:51 (one week ago) link

Mdou Moctar, "Afrique Victime" from Afrique Victime (out later this month). This guy...he's like the High On Fire of Sahara rock. His shit is just explosive, and the new album is amazing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6CUSa_laj4

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 1 May 2021 23:54 (one week ago) link

that Magat Milkitna Dulaa track is sick!

calzino, Sunday, 2 May 2021 00:00 (one week ago) link

Related thread: S&D: the Sahel Sounds label

I'm not so hot on all of this stuff (too many guitars, ha) but Sahel have definitely put out a few things I like an awful lot. Will have a listen to yr youtube recs later as I do want to try out more.

emil.y, Sunday, 2 May 2021 00:04 (one week ago) link

I went through a phase where I was completely obsessed with this album, which was the first gnawa I heard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44Qve2jxqNk

This was pre-streaming and pre-everything-is-available-all-the-time, so I wound up searching largely in vain for similar music, since a lot of other "gnawa" records were more in the world music vain and I was being a purist about it. Still think it's an incredible album. I have a harder time getting into Touareg guitar music - it seems like something that would be right in my zone and yet I just don't get excited by it. The marketing schtick used for it in the US is a bit annoying too, but w/e, you can't market a foreign artist in the US without some kind of hook.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 2 May 2021 02:50 (one week ago) link

I have a harder time getting into Touareg guitar music - it seems like something that would be right in my zone and yet I just don't get excited by it.

I've never been as huge a Tinariwen fan as lots of other people; I prefer female vocalists to male, in that style, so Mariem Hassan and Tartit and now Les Filles de Illighadad are my favorites.

but also fuck you (unperson), Sunday, 2 May 2021 03:06 (one week ago) link


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