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Albums Of The Week: Mdou Moctar | Afrique Victime

More hypnotic grooves and fretburning pyrotechnics from the Tuareg guitar hero.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With Afrique Victime, prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter Mdou Moctar rips a new hole in the sky ­— boldly reforging contemporary Saharan music and “rock music” by melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations on love, religion, women’s rights, inequality, and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers.

Mdou’s home is Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger. Inspired by traditional Tuareg melodies and YouTube videos of Eddie Van Halen’s six string techniques, he mastered the guitar and created his own burning style. A born charismatic, Mdou went on to tell his story as an aspiring artist by writing, producing, and starring in the first Tuareg-language film: A remake of Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai — which translates to Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It — winning the approval of his family and his community. The word and the sound travelled across West Africa via mobile phone data cards, a popular form of local music distribution. Grueling DIY world tours and indie albums followed, including 2019’s landmark Ilana: The Creator, which earned Mdou an ecstatic international audience.

Music listeners are the beneficiaries of the staggeringly powerful do-it-yourself musical ethic of Mdou Moctar — the man and the band — who’ve worked so hard to bring the spirits of families and communities in Niger to the West. Afrique Victime sounds and feels like a Tuareg hand reaching down from the sky, and we are very lucky for this chance to get lifted.”

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