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A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!




June 28, 2011



In the year since I last saw them play live, Tamikrest has matured into a bona-fide rocking band! They’re also, a reminder that rock is not exclusive to Western musicians and, that many musicians, whatever their origins, could learn from this group’s exciting fusion of all they’ve known and their musical influences, as well as the way in which they make that into music that’s uniquely their own.

Hailing from the far north of Mali, these young Touareg musicians, whose band’s name translates as ‘the knot, junction or coalition’, referring to the various regions they’ve originated from, are also referred to by the name of their language - Tamashek.

From the audible level of excitement when Tamikrest came on, it was obvious they have many fans! Though I’m sure the curiosity of new-comers was instantly piqued by their colourful, and, doubtless, to many, exotic appearance. Their line of guitarists – lead/singer (Ousmane Ag Mossa), rhythm/vocals (Mossa Ag Borreiba) and bass/vocals, (Cheikh Ag Tiglia) in varying shades of green, free flowing, knee length tunics over matching, equally loose trousers, and the group’s two percussionists, Ibrahim Ag Ahmed Salim, a fresh-faced teen in white on calabash, vocals and drums and super djembe player/vocals Aghaly Ag Mohamedine in vibrant orange. With all but Ag Mossa’s head and face swathed in white against a scorching desert sun, it seemed as though they were luring us onto their sandy turf before they’d even begun to play.

And play they did, treating us to one delectable selection after another from their two albums  - their acclaimed 2010 debut Adagh, and their recently released, sure to become classic Toumastin, both of which trace the evocative trajectory of a band destined for a cloudless future and bright, lengthily career. After a subtly expansive start, they gradually built up to an evocative crescendo, which was then maintained via interwoven instrumentation from their ultra-tight rhythm section of double drumming, (djembe and calabash/drums), courtesy of Ag Mohamedine and Ag Ahmed Salim, and rounding out input of Ag Mossa on lead guitar and Ag Borreiba on rhythm. Similarly, vocal honours were shared by Ag Mossa on lead, and his fellow band mates who intermittently and collectively answered him, a la call and response, as well as intermittently backing him.

Intricate bass work, amazingly relentless djembe playing, ever supportive rhythm guitar and drumming, and Ag Mossa’s varigated singing and guitar artistry, shifting smoothly from plaintive to passionate and joyous, with stop-overs at every state in between make for a consistently stimulating musical landscape, well worth experiencing.

It’s relatively rare for a set to be clinker free, but Tamikrest’s gig here boasted jewels galore, from their opening song  ‘Adjan Adaki’ from their latest CD - Toumastin to encores ‘Adagh’ and ‘Tahoult’ from their debut album, Adagh,  which is yet another name for the Touareg people themselves.

Picking standouts among this stellar set would be akin to choosing individual grains of sand in a desert, but Ag Mossa created some truly memorable moments of his own throughout, especially via his unplugged encore rendering of ‘Adagh’ on which is vocals were matched only by his hauntingly beautiful guitar playing. Other set stunners included: ‘Fassous Trhanet’ from Toumastin and another personal favourite – ‘Tidite Tille’ from Adagh. Though at times, Tamikrest’s songs are nearly as indescribable as they are easy to listen to, over and over again and again with their multi- inflections, some offering traces of reggae, and/or rock, others funk, albeit in Tamikrest’s own, unique style.

Lauded as the followers of legendary Tinariwen on their debut, Tamikrest have since, earned themselves an indefinable class of their own, allowing for countless musical experiments to come.

If you don’t know Tamikrest, but would like to see them perform live, you’re in luck, as they’re set to appear on the Freestage of the Barbican Centre on July 23rd at 6:15pm, as part of their Blaze Festival. Bring some dosh with you, as you’ll surely want to buy one (or both) of their CDs to take home after.

At this juncture, I only have one complaint – that Tamikrest are not on the bill of WOMAD Charlton Park this year!




Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulJx1XXQw4U



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