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Guitars From Agadez, Vol. 3
In many ways, the nomadic Tuaregs of the Sahara remain stubbornly immune to modernity—a small miracle in these days of hyper-connectivity and viral culture. But over the last 30 years or so, the barriers to cultural homogeneity (brought about by geography, politics, and tradition) enabled a unique musical bouillabaisse to brew among the Tuareg—an electric guitar-based mélange of traditional Arab song and the sounds of Hendrix, Dylan, James Brown, and John Lee Hooker gleaned from cassettes carried on foot and camel-back between Saharan trading posts.
A few of these groups—most notably Tuareg guitar pioneers Tinarawen—have reached European and North American listeners, but few offer a Tuareg guitar experience as raw and fiery as Group Inerane. Guitars from Agadez Vol. 3 is essentially a field recording of a band making supremely intense, imaginative, and original guitar music in the face of no-joke, real-world adversity. Before this recording, second guitarist Adi Mohamed was shot and killed in violence related to the political strife in Tuareg lands.
Fellow guitarist Bibi Ahmed and the rest of the band carried on in the wake of the tragedy, and the results are some of the most intense and ecstatic guitar grooves ever committed to record. If you’re a stickler for high fidelity, these are not antiseptic studio recordings. But they are absolutely thrilling for their naked grittiness. Through these heated and hazy trances you can hear the echoes—or is it seeds?—of John Lee Hooker’s swamp grooves, Keith Richards’ stinging open-tuned explorations, and the Velvet Underground’s street-trucking rave ups. It’s white hot and hypnotic, truly electric folk music by some of the most original electric guitar players alive today.