Follows Tinarwen’s distinguished tracks through the Saharan sands.
Jon Lusk 2010-02-17
Tamikrest are a group of young Touareg musicians from the far north of Mali, where the parched landscape forms part of the Sahara desert. Their name means ‘the knot, junction or coalition’, a reference to the fact that the members hail from different regions, and ‘Adagh’ is another name for the Touareg, who are also referred to by their language, Tamashek.
They’re being dubbed ‘the spiritual sons of Tinariwen’ – the original exponents of the ‘Ishumar rock’ (Touareg rebel music), and right from the first notes of this debut album, it’s obvious who they’ve modelled their music on. If you’re a Tinariwen fan who just can’t wait for their next disc, Adagh is very much cut from the same cloth, with a few minor differences.
While Tinariwen have four lead vocalists and writers, Tamikrest’s Ousmane Ag Mossa is the sole featured singer and songwriter. His lyrics follow much the same themes as theirs, though, focussing most often on the Touareg struggle for self determination as an oppressed group in contemporary Malian society. Many Touareg have spent their lives in exile, after fleeing the fallout from one of several rebellions that have sparked off since Mali gained independence in 1959.
Like Tinariwen, Tamikrest’s default groove is an agreeably relaxed (and relaxing) lope that suggests a perambulating camel, typified by the likes of Amidini and Adounia Mahegagh. On most tracks Ousmane Ag Mossa’s simple, gnarled lead guitar is backed by two other rhythm guitars, providing a drone or subtle waves of reverb. What distinguishes them from their icons are Cheikhe Ag Tigly’s rather mobile bass lines (which are perhaps a little too high in the mix) and the frequent introductory ululations by female backing singers Fatma Walette Cheikhe and Bassa Walette Abdamou.
There are a few discreet and respectful contributions from members of the American band Dirtmusic, who Tamikrest met at the well-known Festival in the Desert in 2007. The most obvious of these is the atmospheric slide guitar by former Bad Seed Hugo Race on Toumastin, while the band’s Chris Eckman is credited as producer.
Adagh isn’t an especially ground-breaking record, but it’s good to know there’s a whole new generation of Touareg rockers more or less following Tinarwen’s distinguished tracks through the Saharan sands.