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Mdou Moctar Drops Freeing Sounds on Afrique Victime

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When you write about music, you can hear the opening bars of a song and pretty much figure out where it will go from there. It’s just how it goes when you hear more music in a day than some people will hear in a month. However whenever the music follows its own path, that’s when things become interesting. After hearing for years about the virtuosic guitar wielding of Niger’s Mdou Moctar, it was apparent that the Tuareg artist was on a path of his own creation. Melding together a mix of blues and rock intermingled with wild jaunts of scale based mastery, their new album Afrique Victime is a wild ride you need to take your ears on.

Opening with the driving and freewheeling tones of “Chismiten,” the band begins their journey down a path they’re writing. The lead vocals met with backing vocals get spliced with rhythmic beats and a guitar tone that would make Jimi Hendrix proud. The way the band is in such sync shows off their talents as a unit while eviscerating what you think can be done on a guitar. Followed by the space touched sounds of “Taliat,” the group further expands on Moctar’s playing. The passion in the vocals flows as easily as the guitarist shreds up the fret board. There’s an inherent ability here that never lets up. The Tuareg sounds emanate throughout as the music plays creating a masterful sound between the progressions. Even via the acoustic, the song “Ya Habibti” carves its own way, shouldering the percussive elements with ease.

On songs like “Untitled” and “Asdikte Akal” there’s so much discovery intermingling with expression that you’re bowled over with the energy of it all. It reminds us that music can be a journey we can all enjoy if we’re willing to buy the ticket. And while we thoroughly enjoy the open ended emotions that flow on “Afrique Victime” or the rhythmic finger picking of “Bismilahi Atagah.” our favorite track of the nine comes on “Layla.” Here the song feels like a nomadic tale we’re hearing the antithesis for. Opened with plucked acoustic notes, the guitarist creates a beat from his playing that expresses the journey through song. The group vocals are melodic in their approach while the trip expands further through the arrangements. There’s a craft in this songwriting that cannot be underscored. The mystery invoking magic that the music creates is on another level while the stride feels like a weave of various styles brought to one place.

Afrique Victime is available on multiple formats directly from Matador Records. It can also be purchased in all digital music stores or streamed on all platforms. Mdou Moctar will be on tour beginning September 02 at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC until October 02 at Lodge Room Highland Park in Los Angeles, CA. Their complete tour can be accessed here.

Image Credits: Photo by WH Moustapha.

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David Garrick

David Garrick has spent the last five years interviewing some of the most intriguing and engaging artists performing today. Everyone from Angel Olsen to Phoebe Bridgers, Wire to Yo La Tengo, Snail Mail to Soccer Mommy, Ghost to First Aid Kit, The Breeders to Protomartyr, and many more. He's a giant fan of music of pretty much any genre; but especially to the underdogs. He's been known to see more concerts in a week than many people will see in a year.

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