The Week (US)

Mdou Moctar

- Afrique Victime

Mdou Moctar’s electric guitar playing is “a searing, untamable thing,” said Sam Sodomsky in Pitchfork .com. The acclaimed Tuareg musician and his band conjure a “fiery, psychedeli­c, adrenalizi­ng” take on assouf—the Saharan “desert blues” pioneered by Ali Farka Touré and popularize­d by the Malian collective Tinariwen. Moctar, who hails from Niger and is now in his mid-30s, “can easily mimic the Western guitarists he admires”—such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. But his soloing style is wholly his own—“a silvery, fluttering sound that ricochets from each surface like a rubber ball thrown into a small room.” Moctar’s vocals matter more here than before, said Kory Grow in Rolling Stone. Apart from a few love songs, the lyrics (sung in Tamasheq and sometimes French) denounce imperialis­m and call for people to unify against the crimes Africa has endured. The title track is a stunning example. “The biggest feat here, though, is how Afrique Victime feels upbeat from start to finish. This is how free rock ’n’ roll should sound.”

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