Music from the archives: Mamman Sani’s ‘Taaritt’
There’s a third and final chapter in this Mamman Sani story. It must be told for all sorts of reasons. The fact that none of these albums were ever properly released at the time of their creation elevates the tale to another level. There’s no better example of the proficiency of an artist working in splendid isolation. All these gems lay covered in desert dust for 30 years. Their discovery was a miracle in itself. Factor in the quality of his compositional and musical skills and we’re in the realm of a fairy tale.
Of the three albums that have been re-released, this one was the last recorded. It dates from 1985 and 1986. There’s a slight change of emphasis in the sound. The first two were miraculously fashioned from a single organ he had brought back to Niger from Italy, but by this time he had acquired a couple of analog Roland and Yamaha synths as well as a rudimentary drum machine. This gives the music a slightly different shape and hue but the unmistakable flow that set the others apart is again the defining feature here.
Sani has a golden touch on the keys. Where others navigate, he glides. The fluidity of his playing matched with his highly unusual melodic patterns makes for mesmerising listening. It stands apart from everything else. Once you pay a visit, it becomes somewhere you need to keep returning to. It’s a unique landscape, a world unto itself.
For instrumental music, it feels remarkably like there’s a voice behind it. There’s certainly a highly consistent language and tone. Sani’s re-imagining of Saharan folk music in futuristic dimensions took him into new territory. The spirit in which he conducted his travels is the most inspirational thing of all.
This is is art for art’s sake. His personal search for the divine took him into a different stratosphere, but the destination is immaterial. It’s all about the journey.