Algeria

The Rough Guide to the Music of the Sahara

Rough Guide to the Music of the Sahara

In terms of music and culture, the Sahara is like an inland sea, where the sounds, tastes and colours of peripheral ‘port’ cities like Marrakesh, Sijilmassa, Timbuktu, Agadez, Ghardaia, In Salah, Ghat, Ghadames, Tunis, Tripoli, Siwa, Cairo, Walata, Chinguetti, Djenné and Kano have mingled for centuries.

CHEIKHA REMITTI – Grand Dame of Algeria’s school of hard knocks!

Remitti is most emphatically still here, well past her eightieth birthday, sharp, defiant, halogenically lucid, still giving her audiences the proverbial cru-cut with her freight-train baritone holler and still raising the temperature with her shimmying shoulders and pulsating midriff. Moreover Remitti really does seem to have overtaken and outlived much of the younger generation that she originally spawned. Her brand new album ‘N’ta Goudami’, is creatively more ambitious and successful than 95% of the rai being recorded by singers one third her age. It seems like Remitti has trounced the rai youth at their own game.

TAMIKREST – The coalition, the knot, the future

Tamekrist - New Touareg guitar music

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s Tinariwen who created the path,” declares Ousmane Ag Mossa, frizzy-locked leader of Tamikrest, in a pre-emptive strike against a thousand inevitable questions. “But the way I see it, if younger bands don’t come through, then Touareg music will eventually die. They created the path and now it’s up to us to walk down it and create the future.”

KEL INEDAN – The Touareg blacksmiths

This is an extract from a pamphlet / article / short book (fate will delete as applicable) that I’m writing about the Touareg blacksmith or artisan. It’s a complex subject and I’m approaching in my usual journalistic and non-academic way. This is bound to ruffle some scholarly feathers…an enjoyable sport in itself. I’m writing this…

MATOUB LOUNES – A lifetime dancing with death

“Silence is death and yet if you speak you die.  If you keep quiet you die.  So then speak and die.” Tahar Djaout “I want to speak and I don’t want to die” Matoub Lounès A grave between an olive and a cherry tree Death finally caught up with him on the lonely bend of…

KHALED #2 – Freedom and pop

A national treasure, who has always taken the trouble to stay out of big ‘P’ politics, Khaled has no problem flirting with power. He’s a good friend of the current Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and defends his friend’s decision to play loose with the constitution and seek a third term.

KHALED – The fame and the furies

Khaled knows that kind of fame, not only in France, but also throughout North Africa, its diaspora and strange unlikely places like India, Brazil and Japan. After the release of his second to last album ‘Kenza’ in 2000, it seemed that fame was beginning to take its toll.

RACHID TAHA #2 – “I dreamed about my own nightmares”

Taha has long been recognised as a perceptive thinker and a courageous mental guerrillero, but what is really astounding is that he has always been fighting a war on two fronts. His stand against the racism and bigotry of his adoptive France, so neatly expressed in anthems like ‘Voilà Voilà’, or the corruption of western governments and war-mongerers, has already been widely hailed and documented.

RACHID TAHA #3 – Who the f**k are you?

“Who are you?” “Who am I?”  It sounds like there’s an existential storm broiling deep inside the soul of France’s number 1 musical upsetter.   ‘Tékitoi?’, the title of the latest in a long line of probing, provocative and highly original Rachid Taha releases,  is a punchy piece of French street lingo whose tone actually says…