Boomkat Product Review:
Enchanting suite of local folk songs from the Tuareg-Berber heartlands of Agadez, Niger; the home to a deep, long and rich history of guitar-playing traditions. It’s practically worth it for the lip-bitingly strong cover of Jimi’s Hey Joe alone, but the rest is crucial too if you’ve ever been snagged by Sahel Sounds’ Mdou Moctar zingers or Sublime Frequencies’ trips to the same region!
With Agrim Agadez, Sahel Sounds afford us a privileged, intimate insight to a long-standing local culture of songcraft that draws on a mosaic of interrelated styles, rhythms and modes from a crossroads of the Saharan desert, all sung in a mixture of tongues and employed everywhere from weddings to parties and communal gatherings.
Unfortunately, Christopher Kirkley’s excellent label haven’t provided many notes on their latest set beyond background info on the Etran De L’Aïr tracks, but that’s fine because those cuts really seem to define the set’s mellow yet insistent allure. The group of brothers and cousins, or the “stars of Aïr” as their name is translated, trade in a needlepoint blend of Tuareg and Hausa traditions that’s neither or (Hausa-not-Hausa, if you will) yet definitely from Agadez.
In both Iban Mano D’ikhya and Agrim Agadez they nimbly channel a wealth of influences that jacks us right into the ancient, dusty landscape, whilst Mdou Mopctar also turns up with he beautifully tender purrs of Adounia Tiyoun and Azna De L’ader kill us with the electrified dust devils spun from their amazing cover of Hey Joe, and Amaria Hamadalher soothes the soul like a rare balm with the somehow frantic yet aqueous Bahouche.