Tamikrest ‘Adagh’ (Glitterhouse) 4/5

Following on from the revelatory sounds of Tiniwaren, another Tuareg group whose native Tamashek language cuts across the political boundaries of Algeria, Libya, Mali and Nigeria, are being introduced for the first time to an international audience with their debut global album, ‘Adagh’. As with Tinariwen, Tamikrest are as much a visual as they are a sonic treat and it was via the Festival of the desert concerts during 2008 that a musical collaboration was founded between the band members and U.S./Australian rock veterans Dirtmusic who have brought their technical savoir-faire of studio procedures to help Tamikrest complete the project. There is an overall trance-like quality to several of the songs and this reflects in part the nomadic existence which the group members have experienced with especially adverse political and social conditions for their people in recent times, and certainly the band see themselves as being spokespersons who are able to use their music as a vehicle to highlight the plight of their people. The guitar riff on the atmospheric ‘Aîcha’ hints at a distinctly Arabic feel, though both funk and rock guitar influences are instantly discernable on this song and this makes for an intriguing mix. Hypnotic and encapsulating are two adjectives that immediately spring to mind when hearing ‘Tidie tille’ while the opener ‘Outamachek’ possesses a relentless driving blues-rock beat with ‘oulala’ chanting and even the hint of a reggae influence on rhythm guitars. A more reflective side to the band’s sound is displayed on ‘Aratane n’adagh’ which gradually builds in intensity and on the melodic ‘Alhorya’. Recorded at the Bogolan studios in Mali, this is a truly beautifully produced album that nonetheless enables the rougher edge to the music to come to the surface. Both Tamikrest and Dirtmusic (whose album will be reviewed shortly) are expected to tour the UK during 2010 and this promises to be a major event for fans of African and world roots music more generally. The evocative gatefold sleeve and beautifully illustrated inner sleeve provides a glimpse of both the beauty and also the harshness of the desert and bi-lingual lyrics in English and French enable the listener to better appreciate the political struggles that Tamikrest and their fellow Tamishek speakers face in the twenty-first century.

Tim Stenhouse