Tamikrest ‘Chatma’ (Sisters) CD/Vinyl/Digital (Glitter Beat) 4/5

Tuareg band Tamikrest have become one of the victims of the current political unrest in the region of north and west Africa and are currently exiled in Algeria. The new album, their third overall, is dedicated to the courage of Tuareg women and is arguably their most lyrical thus far. They cut across musical boundaries also and incorporate elements of rock guitar inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. Indeed the very name of the band itself means ‘crossing’ and is apt to describe the fusion of influences that abound. In contrast with previous albums, the more melodic side to the band’s repertoire has been emphasised this time round with the laid back acoustic ‘Adounia tabarat’ a highlight number and complete with Ry Cooderesque guitar licks. This adds another dimension to the Tamikrest sound and is something that this writer would like to hear more of. In a different vein, though equally melodic, is the gentle reggaefied rhythm guitar of ‘Imanin bas Zihoun’ fits the bill while for fans of the desert blues ‘Timtar’ echoes the music of one Ali Farka Touré. For devotees of an uptempo groove, Tamikrest can certainly deliver on the groove laden rocker ‘Djanegh etoumast’ which is memorable for its call and response vocals and on the vibrant percussion of the album opener, ‘Tisnant an chatma’. Female vocalist Wonou Walet Sidati will be a familiar voice to some and was formerly with Tinariwen who were one of the first Tuareg groups to reach an international audience. A two-pronged UK tour has already taken in July concerts at the Latitude and Womad festivals and will continue with an extended tour in October.

Tim Stenhouse