Album Review: Tamikrest – Tamotaït [Glitterbeat Records; March 2020]

Tamikrest is one of the familiar names to gain international success from the Northern areas of the Sahara desert, spanning Mali to Algeria and more. The centuries old nomadic inhabitants of this unforgiving land are the Tuareg, or (Kel) Tamasheq – such as Tamikrest, and they are a displaced people, fighting for autonomy and living completely in exile. This is represented in a song named ‘Azawad’, which is the chosen name for the state the Tuaregs fight for autonomy over.

Much like the Tamasheqs, Tamikrest’s music has become transient – the musicians themselves move from country to country, nomadically and politically roaming, whilst staying completely still, strong and characteristically Tamasheq – the message remains strong and the sound powerful. The deep kick drums, clap percussion, cyclical and insane guitar riffs, with emotive and delicately presented lyrics.

Tamotaït is the fifth studio album released on Glitterbeat from Tamikrest, who started their international career playing in the pioneering Tuareg band, Tinariwen, and perhaps there can be no separating music from politics. But for sure this album is another moral dose from the ideals of the Kel Tamasheq, the title itself ‘Tamotaït’ means ‘hope for positive change’ – the ongoing ideals of the Tuareg.

This album feels at times, smooth and meditative, with roaring rock’n’roll ups.

‘Tihoussey’ is a particular favourite of mine, with its Asian tones and twangs, quite a different aesthetic – one I’m thinking we need more of: Tuareg meets traditional Japanese.

As well as this, the amazing Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra features on “Timtarin” and provides refreshing high tones on an otherwise hypnotic track.

Nine songs long, this is mostly a lovely relaxing, summer groove album – differing slightly from the average Tuareg album, certainly with an overriding hypnotic mellow feel. However, it still has the necessary power packed interludes of the rock we know so well from the Sahara, such as the penultimate tune “Anha Achal Wad Namda”.

I rate this album a lot as it’s everything we love, with a new, different, overall aesthetic – one we’ve not heard too much of!