MDOU MOCTAR is at last gathering momentum. Still, it’s been an epic journey since 2008 when his raw, emotional guitar music first began to spread across West Africa via the DIY network of traded SIM cards.
Picked up by Chris Kirkley of Sahel Sounds, who sent Mdou a much-needed left-handed Strat, and which label then released his first four albums, the Tuareg musician has always shown perseverance and determination.
Things began to pick up speed with the release of the Ilana, The Creator album last year with its tighter, rock-driven sound, honed through relentless live work with his band. Merging that characteristic desert blues throb with surging guitar lines, pounding bass and chant-based vocals, Ilana whipped up a haunting psychedelic whirlwind.
So news of a move onto the hefty Matador label and the release of a new album, Afrique Victime, on May 21st is much anticipated by fusionists from all directions. You may already have been on high alert after the first preview track, the urgent, adrenaline pumping “Chismiten”, shook up the winter sleepover with its cutting lead lines and booming riffs. Now comes a second taster, “Tala Tannam”, showing Moctar’s band at their most reflective and hypnotically melodic.
Described by Mdou as a love song, the title means ‘your tears’. The track is effortlessly tender, melting in the soothing blend of tumbling acoustic patterns and soulful lead lines. It’s a joy, made with integrity and shaped by Moctar’s relationship with the Agadez region in Niger that remains the source of his music’s power.
Sounds like the Afrique Victime album is shaping up to be yet another testament to richness of that connection.
Mdou Moctar’s Afrique Victime will be released by Matador digitally, on CD and on trad black and exclusive tri-coloured vinyl on May 21st; it’s available to pre-order from the label now. There’s also an array of merch bundles.