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Tamikrest Toumastin Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A varied and polished second set coming 14 months after their debut.

Jon Lusk 2011

Released 14 months after their debut, Adagh, the second effort by this Malian Touareg band again finds them recording with the same producer (Chris Eckman, of US rockers Dirtmusic) in the same place (Bamako’s Studio Bogolan) – and coming up with pretty similar results. If you liked what you heard last time around, Toumastin offers a slightly more varied and polished set, but offers no great departures. But if Tamikrest are new to you, this is not a bad place to start.

Tamikrest’s typical style remains Ousmane Ag Mossa’s careworn, desert-dry vocals accompanied by his electric lead guitar (often using a wah-wah effect), with rhythm guitar counterpoint, hand claps, percussion, drums and bass. Two female vocalists offer harmony vocals or call-and-response interaction with him, sometimes bursting into spine-tingling ululation. And yes, they still sing philosophically about life in the desert, family, culture, and affairs of the heart, though with lines like "You are the mistress of my thoughts", perhaps it’s just as well everything is still in Tamasheq.

Nak Amadjar Nidounia (Me, The Stranger to Life) is one of the more stripped-down pieces, and its reggae-flavoured lope and slight dub effects hint at the Bob Marley influence Ousmane has often mentioned. On Ayitma Madjam, Cheikh Ag Tiglia seems to have taken over on the slide guitar that Eckman added last time around; this time he contributes subtle mirage-like organ, here and on Tidit – although the credits seem a little out of sync with this and in other places. Addektegh is a meandering acoustic guitar interlude which sounds like it could have been worked into something more substantial or perhaps used to segue into another track to avoid drawing attention to its slightness. And on the slow, brooding closer Dihad Tedoun Itran, guest musician Matjaz Sekne adds a melancholic line on viola. It doesn’t sound out of place, but begs the question of why a local musician on a soku/njarka (local one-stringed fiddle) wasn’t used.

Does a band need to progress substantially from one album to another? AC/DC don’t seem to think so, so perhaps not. But if Tamikrest are to steal the crown of Tinariwen (the great Touareg guitar band they model themselves on) they’ll probably have to come up with something more novel next time. Maybe not roller-disco remixes or a dubstep dust bath, just a little ‘X factor’... on second thoughts, forget that last bit.

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