Album #84: Tamikrest – Tamotaït

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Kidal, Mali
  • Label: Glitterbeat
  • Best Track: Anha Achal Wad Namda

I’m rather pleased that less than a quarter of the way through my project, I’ve now covered at least one album from all six inhabited continents. It’s happened pretty naturally as well – alright, I sought out Los Suziox from Colombia because I wanted to hear some South American punk, but I found myself reviewing an Argentine band yesterday, and that was just something I stumbled upon.

Malian group Tamikrest contributes the final piece of the continental jigsaw, but again I’m not just giving them a token listen because they’re from Africa. I heard the opening track ‘Awnafin’ a few weeks ago and thought it sounded interesting enough to bookmark the new album, which came out in late March.

I’m a total philistine on world music, but I like how meditative and focused a lot of North African and Arabic music is. In a funny way it can be likened to noise rock and krautrock in that it’s often about intensity and repeating the same loops of music until their audible effects change. I watched a documentary recently that noted that while religious music in the West is very reliant on melody and powerful, exultant vocals, the focus in Africa and Asia is more on rhythm and atmosphere. It almost seems like a more introverted form of worship and it’s one I can get along with better, frankly. Saying that, I don’t know whether there’s any religious element to Tamikrest’s music, although the members are of the Tuareg people, who are closely linked to Islam, so it seems not unlikely.

Sung in the North African language of Tamasheq, I won’t pretend to know what the songs on their sixth album Tamotaït are about. I can only comment on how I find them, and I hear an enlightening mix of traditional African guitars and percussion (I’ve just learned what a djembe is), interspersed with the psychedic and proggy influences of the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd.

I really like the last two tracks in particular. The noisy crescendo of ‘Anha Achal Wad Namda’ is a joy, as are the wonderfully mesmerising chimes of ‘Tabsit’. No idea what sort of instrument it is – some variant of a xylophone, maybe?

To conclude, I don’t know what I’m talking about here, but as they say, you don’t have to be a chef to know if food’s good or bad. And I don’t have to be a musician to know this is good.

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