gargando mon beau village

The first rains were falling outside Timbouctou. A cold wind carried the bruised clouds over the river and the waving grasses, dampening the scorched ocher of red earth. I remember hearing about Abba, listening to a muffled cassette in Nema, across the border in Mauritania. The rain was also falling…

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give up the goods (just step)

Takamba is a place. It's also a slow ghostly dance, a distinctive staggered rhythm clapped on a calabash, and a gritty distorted terhardent. "Ali" Ag Amoumine doesn't live in Takamba, but 250 kilometers up river in Timbouctou. He's also not Sonrai, the ethnicity credited with the creation of Takamba, though…

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first they built the road, then they built the town

Sahl la Guindo, Ndjarka, NIAFOUNKE Once, when the first rains began to fall on the desert, I left Timbouctou. The route I traveled, one of a handful of possibilities none more glamorous than the rest, is traversable only by desert craft, the pale horse of the landcruiser -- choking and…

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Piracy, fun, terrorism.

Ishilan n Tenere has had its "official" African release -- a limited run of 100 cassettes produced with the crew from Mississippi Records, for African export only. Considering the conditions of the Sahel, with suffocating midday heat, corrosive sand, and the destructive hands of little children, the cassette seemed the…

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Auld lang syne

Concert recording from Ibrahim of Tinariwen at the Fete du Chameau in Tessalit, Mali - New Year's Eve, 2009. (via rapidshare)

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tracklist from music from saharan cellphones

This little cassette of music ("Music from Saharan Cellphones") collected from cellphones has been in internet circulation lately (update -- and the Guardian UK). Pitchfork did a nice write-up on the phenomena of "musical scarcity", Rupture at Mudd Up! has given it some blog/radio play, and Portland's own Gulls put…

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