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Knockout side of ‘90s electronic Tuareg blues from Niger’s Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou, a pioneer of the Saharan sound predominantly played on guitars, here accompanied by bubbling drum machines and synth pads to hypnotic effect ranking among Sahel Sounds’ very best
Sounding like Balearic vibes caught on a prevailing wind from deepest Sahara via early ‘90s Ibiza, ‘Anou Malane’ is just brimming with balmy grooves and heat-hazy licks that make us want to shut eyes and travel to somewhere much warmer. It’s a real find from Christopher Kirkby’s roving label, locating longheld nomadic music traditions embracing new technology in order to amplify and channel their spirit in a manner that resonates with modern echoes of this style from the likes of Luka Productions or Hama’s elegant, lilting instrumentals.
Considered a classic in the region, but scarcely known internationally, ‘Anou Malane’ was recorded in Benin in 1995 and remains among the earliest studio recordings of Tuareg guitar music. While the music is ostensibly elegant and melodic, it was made while Abdullah was in exile, and thus it’s also politically charged as an address to fighters scattered in the desert during the ‘90s Tuareg rebellion spread across Niger and Mali - part of the nomadic Tuaregs’ traditional territory.
According to the label, Abdallah recorded it in Benin with Nel Oliver, a West African producer behind a number of seminal boogie and afro-funk sides, whose influence can clearly be heard in the early digital drum machine pulses and synthetic backdrops to the guitar, which is always upfront with the vocals in-the-mix. Riddled with hooks and seductively swinging, it ain’t hard to hear how ‘Anou Malane’ became a local classic and brought Saharan politics to the dancefloor. While its politics may not be understood by modern listeners, ‘Anou Malane’ is sure to resonate with dancefloor tastes across the world in 2019.