Album Review: Tamikrest – Kidal [Glitterbeat Records, 17th March 2017]

For Glitterbeat Records, Tamikrest’s Kidal represents the perfect balance between the rock and meditative elements. The importance given to the message in the Tamashek language expresses the concerns of a marginalised people. The Tuareg people have a long history of hardship, oppression and insane control of political, economic and religious antagonistic interests. For this reason, the band, from the northern Republic of Mali in the Sahara Desert, use music as a weapon. In this sense, meaning knot, junction, or coalition, the name of the band refers to the passion for their people and their cause.

Since Tamikrest’s first release in 2010 (Adagh), the band has explored and developed the fusion between what can be called ‘desert blues’ and Western rock. Thus, influenced by the music of Sahel Arica and the Maghreb as well as taking inspiration from Spanish Flamenco, Rachid Taha or Pink Floyd, Tamikrest stand out for their inventiveness, a fresh kind of beauty that combines with a powerful message; The strength of their songs can be seen as a symbol of their cause.

Kidal is the fourth studio release out of five other records. Kidal was produced by Mark Mulholland and recorded at Studio Bogolan in Bamako, Mali (almost 1,000 miles from Kidal), between August and September 2016. The fact that it was recorded near Kidal is of crucial symbolism, because the town and commune form an important cultural centre. Tamikrest’s band is composed of Ousmane Ag Mossa (vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar), Aghaly Ag Mohamedine (djembe, backing vocals), Cheick Ag Tiglia (bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Paul Salvagnac (lead & rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar), and Nicolas Grupp (drums, percussion).

The eleven songs of the album pay homage and tribute to a people whose claims for freedom and for their own territory, and for a people who face constant overpopulation troubles, disease, and even strictures about dancing or playing music. “War Tila Eridaran”, for example, expresses the joys, pains and uncertainties of the Tuareg people with the words: ‘My love is my country, my ambition is freedom.’ Since Ousmane Ag Mossa has experienced, lived and shared the same difficulties of his people, dignity has become a key theme of the album, for a place which, according to him is the “cradle of all the uprisings, [which] continue to resist the many acts perpetrated by obscure hands against our people.”

Crying, suffering, dispossession, defiance, hope, rebellion, power, resistance, freedom, survival, threat, and other similar words and adjectives are found in Kidal, the album and the town. Ultimately, Kidal is the cry of a world which hungers for humanity.