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A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!



(GRCD/LP 721)
Distributed by Shellshock

Out now on Glitterhouse Records


Toumastin, eagerly awaited second album from Kel Tamashek band Tamikrest makes a fitting follow-up to the group’s stunning, well received 2010 debut Adagh. Their music reeks of Saharan tradition at the same time as it reflects on legendary rock influences such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. But as Tamikrest’s press release states, their music ‘bridges the gap between African Blues and hypnotic dub, psychedelic funk and an almost supernatural kind of desert garage.’

This collection effectively opens with a chant, via brief but alluring ‘Tizarate,’ then moving onto the clopping desert rock, fused with Tamashek grooves of ‘Fassous Tarahnet’,  a track much heavier on guitar than those on the first album, and very satisfyingly so, with more certainty in the singing of leader Ousmane Ag Mossa and his backup musicians and singers. Hendrix meets Kel Tamashek on this number, and the pair agrees to share this song whole-heartedly. Riffs that wouldn’t be out of place in a Sly and the Family Stone song circa 1968-69 are seemingly, modernized by the band’s ritualistic, traditional beats.

‘Nak Amadjar Nidounia’ sounds plaintive, but hopeful at the same time, as Fatma Wallet Cheick’s voice glides above the music with that of backing vocals from Bassa Wallet Abdamous and Wannou Wallet Sidaty joining in, as a lighter shade of dub sets the tone. Sultry and sweet.

Full on, yet invitingly restrained, brimming with natural soulfulness and rich with the promise of firm intent is ‘Aratan N Tinariwen.’ The grooves of this track, with percussion by Blaz Celarec, are designed to instantly propel its listeners. Irresistible in the extreme.

A stirring of cultures, a blending of times, repeated listening of ‘Ayitma Madjam’ ensure good times. Rich clear patterns of song, courtesy of Fatma Wallet Cheick and instrumentation allure and beguile, as outstanding drumming and guitar work lead us on, as do the track’s shining vocals.

On ‘’Aidjan Adaky’ track six, Ousmane Ag Mossa’s expressive guitar talks to us, paving the way for his emotive vocals, full of bluesy longing. This album should enhance Ag Mossa’s burgeoning reputation as a singer guitarist to be reckoned with, leading a band that’s destined for stardom. The occasional Tamashek whoop from the band’s backup singers reaffirms Tamikrest’s roots.

At this point I began to realize that listening to this album by Tamikrest has roughly the same effect as traditionally Southern American blues – namely that of obliterating any inner angst.

The beautifully picked guitar work on instrumental track, ‘Addektegh’ reminds us of both the talent of Tamikrest as a band, and the excellence of the album’s production. There is something at once familiar and foreign about this track that enhances its’ universal appeal.

Rock meets funk and both join with tradition on upbeat, celebratory ‘’Tarhamanine Assinegh’ a track you can’t help but groove to. Backup singing increases awareness of the band’s roots at the same time that strident, expressive instrumentation brings infectious smiles in response to all of the aforementioned, along with throbbing bass, which forms the song’s backbone.

Our multi-cultural journey continues with ‘Nak Akaline Tinza’ (Tinzaouatene), narrative in feeling and buoyant, yet peaceful by nature. Far from seeming war-like, whoops create balance.

Guitar rock vibes chime well with traditional drumming in ‘Tidit’ and when Ag Mossa and this time on backup, Fatma Wallet Cheick join in, we again enjoy the amiable dualities of Tamikrest’s musical world.

Mystery abounds in ‘Dihad Tedoun Itran’ the closing track, but it as if we leave Tamikrest where they began, with a lamenting but nonetheless, inspiring chant, this time, accompanied by mournful cello sounding strings, punctuating drums, wailing guitar, and relentless drumming.

It all makes for a very heady mixture indicating, like Toumastin, that as surely as camels amble steadily towards their desert destinations, Tamikrest is moving ever closer to star status.

Having been fortunate enough to catch Tamikrest in concert at Borderline last year with then collaborators Dirt Music, and enjoyed the experience immensely, I can only say that I’m eagerly looking forward to the band’s return engagement there on June 28th. As Tamikrest are definitely where it’s at in terms of soulfulness, I recommend you be there too. Meanwhile, listening to Toumastin will feed your longing for a sultry helping of dance inducing desert blues.
Tamikrest will be performing live in the UK this summer; first dates announced are:
Saturday, 25 June, midday to 1am - Home festival in Dartington, Dartington Great Hall, Devon,
Tuesday, 28 June - The Borderline, Orange Yard, Off Manette Street, London, W1D 4JB,

Check out the music video for their song "Aratan N Tinariwen":

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