here be dragons

The debut tour of Mdou Moctar and the band wrapped up last month. I’ve spent the past month since the tour thinking of how best to sum up the experience. In lieu of too many words, I’ve put together this short collaborative video collage:

(photos here)

In the concerts, the band brought a fierceness to the stage that electrified the audiences, and myself, even after nightly shows. On the long journeys from Sweden to Portugal, we joked at the surreal cultural chasms of Europe and Niger. And throughout the multitude of problems plaguing the journey – robberies from unknown assailants, institutional bureaucracies, and predatory businesses, we kept our heads up. Touring is not easy. We’re forever indebted to the people who helped us along the way.

And we’re continuing forward. The movie is in the final stages, and will wrap up soon, with an upcoming Agadez screening. And though touring was never the intention of this site/blog/label/project, the opportunities continue to assert themselves, and Mdou will be returning for another European tour in the fall. I’ve pressed up a small quantity of Mdou’s first album, the never before released “Anar” – 8 tracks of autotuned Tuareg guitar anthems. The vinyl will be available only on the tour, via the shop, and bandcamp:

I apologize in advance for the high price, but after a series of problems on the previous tour, culminating in a $3000 car rental bill from Sixt in Denmark the tour made no money after a month work, so we’re trying to recoup some of our costs to pay for the next one. You’re encouraged to send any and all complaints to on our behalf. And be careful in dealings with the monsters of the rental car world. Here be dragons.

head dance

Group Mamelon is a Malian Balani Show outfit taking their name from a hill in Sikasso. Koumba FriFri is one of their more popular tracks, recorded in 2010 is an ancient song, updated for the electro age. It translates to “the head dance.” The video, like the song, was mostly distributed via cellphones in 3gp format, hence the low-res quality. I’ve re-dubbed the sound for maximum listening. Recommended viewing is on miniature screen.

Of the modern Malian music in heavy rotation, Mamelon is a few groups combining traditional themes and rhythms with a insanely fast paced sample based music making. Malian rap dominates the Mali soundscape today, making the groups like Mamelon, Supreme Talent Show, and Kaba Blon standout amongst the synthed out club banging Bambara Hip Hop found on sites like Bamada-City.

Koumba Frifri is featured on the Balani Show LP and has also been issued in a limited split 7″ with a bass heavy, chopped and screwed remix by Gulls from Boomarmnation, available here and at the Sahel Sounds shop.

close encounters

The next two weeks, Mamman Sani will be touring around France (plus brief stopovers in Geneva and London). We have a great lineup of shows, sharing bills w/ Group Inerane, Phono Mundial, and the amazing Brigitte Fontaine & Areski:

April 4th – Cave 12 – Geneva, Switzerland (w/Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp)
April 5th – L’Embobineuese – Marseilles, France (w/Bibi Ahmed + Phonomundial)
April 7th – La Nef – Angoulême, France
April 8th – Sonic Protest, Eglise St. Merry – Paris, France (w/Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem, Jéricho)
April 9th – Le Temps Machine – Tours, France (w/Le Cercle des Mallissimalistes)
April 10th – Le Sonic – Lyon, France (w/Group Inerane)
April 11th – Café Pompier – Bordeaux, France
April 12th – Le Lieu Unique – Nantes, France (w/Larry Gus + Discolowcost )
April 13th – Point Limite – Rouen, France
April 14th – Cafe OTO – London, England

We’ll also be touring with the new LP “Taaritt”, a collection of unreleased studio sessions made in the late 1980s.* The record is from an era when Mamman began programming his own rhythms, and the music is more Vangelis than Terry Riley. Some of the tracks were recorded during Mamman’s last visit to France in 1987, including the following title track – so it’s a bit of a homecoming.

*Big ups to Maria Joan Dixon for the incredible Tuareg alien spaceship artwork, modeled on the Croix d’Agadez and this.