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Rock - Released March 29, 2019 | Sahel Sounds

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Songlines Five-star review
Since making his first recordings in 2008, singer and guitarist Mdou Moctar has gradually amassed an international audience on the strength of his earlier albums, which have ranged from live recordings to the acoustic compositions found on 2017’s Sousoume Tamachek, as well as his reputation as an engaging live musician. Recorded in Detroit and Niger, Ilana (The Creator) powerfully captures the energy of Mdou Moctar’s live show, both via the interplay of the quartet of musicians heard here and via the searing lead guitar work heard across the album. That’s not to say that this album is all guitar heroics and nonstop instrumental workouts — though those are certainly present. But just as Mdou's past work has showcased his stylistic range, so too does this album feature a dynamic range, as heard on the restrained and trance-like “Tumastin” and the title song, which decries French uranium mining in Niger. Listeners seeking impressive displays of musical virtuosity would do well to explore “Tarhatazed” and “Kamane Tarhanin,” which feature more guitar heroics. Ilana (The Creator) blends excellent feats of musicianship with welcome instrumental chemistry; it’s a fantastically-made and played rock album from beginning to end. © Tobias Carroll / Qobuz
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Rock - Released May 21, 2021 | Matador

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Rooted in the same issues that once inspired the American blues it's modeled on—poverty, corruption, conflict—West Africa's desert blues boom still has much to say, eloquently weighing in on both public disputes and personal struggles caused by assouf, which in the Tamashek language means loss, longing, homesickness, or "the pain that is not physical." By adding grooves and most importantly, the electric guitar, this maturing genre—percolating since the 1980s—from bands like Tinariwen, Imarhan, and Bombino, has made West Africa a source of fresh inspiration for electric blues rock and psychedelia (two forms of Western music in dire need of new energies). Mdou Moctar, (aka Mahamadou Souleymane)—deemed the "Hendrix of the Sahara,"—has become the latest performer to make the leap to Europe and the US. After a live album for Jack White's Third Man records in 2019, this studio album is a crucial step up in his rapidly rising career. A remarkable collage of sound considering there are only four musicians, Afrique Victime has both ballads and upbeat numbers, all of it rhythmically vital and improvised around a core groove. The left-handed guitarist is supported throughout by his band of rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane (a star in his own right who has collaborated with Moctar since 2018), drummer Souleymane Ibrahim and American bassist/road manager Mikey Coltun who also produced this album which Matador is modestly calling, "Van Halen meets Black Flag meets Black Uhuru." Recorded while the band was on the road in Amsterdam and the US, the overall sound is reasonably clear and well-balanced and was mixed to give the band equal prominence to Moctar's guitar and singing. Nowhere near the equal of his guitarwork, his vocals in Tamashek are often doubled and tripled to make them sound like a chorus. After setting the scene with the buzz of insects, a crowing rooster, and footsteps in gravel, opener "Chismiten" has Moctar singing, "To become a better person, you need to stop being so jealous and insecure," before ripping into a razor-edged electric guitar solo that's swirled with reverb and a slightly distorted tone. Muscular and original, this stirring statement leaves no doubt that this self-professed Eddie Van Halen fan has the requisite ideas and confidence to be a guitar hero. Despite the album's title and the political bent of much of the music from this region, the songs on Afrique Victime are for the most part love songs. In the enchanting chords of the album's most fully realized tune "Tala Tannam" he sings, "I adore your eyes and body shape." In the acoustic guitar and hand claps-led "Ya Habibti" his "heart beats fast when I think of you." And while the humor may be unintentional—the product of a less than elegant Tamashek-to-English translation—the closer "Bismilahi Atagah," finds our hero weary from the battle of the sexes, declaring, "Love has become a painful boil in my life/ More painful than the sword of my enemy." A star on the rise, a guitar hero gently weeping. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Rock - Released March 2, 2021 | Matador

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World - Released September 1, 2017 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released May 21, 2021 | Matador

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World - Released July 17, 2013 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released April 1, 2021 | Matador

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World - Released June 7, 2015 | Sahel Sounds

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World - Released September 9, 2014 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released October 7, 2020 | Matador

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Rock - Released April 1, 2021 | Matador

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Rock - Released May 18, 2021 | Matador

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Rock - Released October 7, 2020 | Matador

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Rock - Released March 13, 2020 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released January 15, 2019 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released March 2, 2021 | Matador

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Rock - Released March 5, 2019 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released February 11, 2020 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released February 12, 2019 | Sahel Sounds

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Rock - Released May 18, 2021 | Matador