Ishumars les Rockers oubliés du Desert -dvd + cd (NI/F,2007)***°+**°
A Group of musicians including Amazigh Kateb (Gwana Diffusion), Guizmo (Tryo) and Daniel Jamet(Mano Negra) with documentarist François Bergeron travelled through the Sahara desert to start their series of documentaries on 'music as a force of resistance', in this case a sort of ‘rock music rebellion’ in Northern Africa. This first documentary (only available in French for the moment) cooperates especially with Abdallah Oumbadougou and also Takrist’ Nakal to record music together, lead of Abadallah Oumbadougou, or solo, and similarly investigates the political story of the problems that the Touareg people faced. Many interviews are taken for it, so that the small evolutions over time are explained, in some order of time.
After colonization it was the dictatorial taking over of power, of land and economy, that made life for nomadic people like the Touareg, who lived all over Northern Africa, difficult, because their way of living does not fit with and within these systems. Since the 90s, music, and especially ‘electric guitar music’, known as the “Touareg guitar” was spread through tapes and with concerts, in order to increase a consciousness to keep their identity intact, and if necessary to mobilize people to revolt and stay together if this identity was endangered. Musicians therefore were often captured but in the end were set free because the only thing they did was keep their people like herders together, mobilizing consciousness and thoughts with hope for solutions. After a while, France was involved in the matter because many Northern African countries were colonized by France before, and French still remained the official language, it was so that international politics and interest became involved.
The documentary follows Abdallah mostly. He was involved with the whole movement from start to finish. The French musicians participate with the songs, bring in some reggae and bluesy chords now and then, drums and some Hendrix-like guitars. This mostly means a cross-pollination, a cooperative soul spreading the Touareg ideas to the world, but there just a few small moments (like shown on the Quebec concert, where all musicians played together), where I think the personal factor of deliberately bringing in different influences just slightly tends to lose the original spirit to replace it by something else. In an interview with Abdallah in that part of the movie he says that musicians should not follow their own goals and purposes, but the heart of the music, otherwise it looses the magic.. When Guizmo, at some point when wearing a T-Shirt of Cuban rebel Ché Guevarra forces reggae into the spirit, I think he crosses a bit that line, and even when there was a rocking swing on that Quebec concert, I have the impression Abdallah sings in it as if he feels exactly this thought, that his message tends to become exploited in a different background, but luckily the music still carries enough to save this thought.
For those who want to get a chance to dig deeper into the music, the bonus DVD track of 36 minutes is a welcome addition. The African Touareg blues here is enriched with improvisations from the extra musicians. The Hendrix factor for me works, because the music tends to rock on and add variations in sections. Also once a reggae part combined technically well with the original song. The French songs in reggae association gave a chance to show the other side of the story, of the French musicians discovering this part of the world. I only wondered why with this opinion there wasn’t taken the time and a consciousness and deeper awareness with it to find a different, more African rhythm variation to replace reggae for it.* The highlight I think almost surely is “Ghai Imidrai Imageren”, which is the track that becomes almost psychedelic. With a fine lightshow, the imitation of a tent on the background, and with the Touaregs keeping on their traditional clothing this is a moment that becomes surreal and overwhelming visually, and musically.
But this is not all, an over 75 minutes CD is also added. Unfortunately the titles can only be read on the CD, and not in the package. I like that many pure acoustic cores with songs are included. The songs for me not necessarily need more than this, because like this its message is kept clear and pure, and it is beautiful to hear their integrity. Also included are a few more rocking tracks. But also a few remixes were added, possible to give more variation or for possible associations and introductions on the dancefloor. These are not necessary remixes, and make us, western people also musical colonists a bit, but it still gives variations on the album. I realize very much how this bonus cd fits well with the documentary. It shows the result well of the musicians time together and how they collected some ideas together, a vision which shows the viewpoint of those who collected, and to what they understood so far. In that way the CD completes the documentary well, and captures also those moments.
* I noticed before everywhere in African sounds how rumba, rock’n roll, jazz and perhaps blues easily added something to the original spirit and rhythms, while there are never done any spontaneous references to reggae at all, because this last style is still much more related to certain islands than to anything from Africa. With rose tinted glasses to true creative evolutions and a blind folded left-wing idea on world music globalisations, I think the addition of what does not add something to the essential voice, could increase a danger to repress certain true origins, something which is perhaps even the opposite of what was intended with the opening up of a global vision. Bringing world music to the west for me often fails because this didn’t find the link yet to show a useful universal vision, or when it attempts to make that link also then it could still fail with its results, because they didn’t take enough time to make it grounded and founded enough. In this case the musicians took enough time to make a vision worth checking out to some degree, even when I think not with the most balanced and 100% creatively respectful formula. In that way not all of it will be the best kept record of it in time, but it will be able to mobilize further political ideas and other consciousness, and might open doors to different directions very well.
Studio album of Desert Rebel ->
Culture & Resistance Desert Rebel (NI/F,2007)**°
Additionally to the documentary has been made a studio album, with different recordings from the bonus tracks on the documentary. It is done with the same Desert Rebel group, so it contains mostly songs by Abdallah Oumbadougou, one song by Guizmo and a few cooperations of compositions by Abdallah Oumbadougou with Guizmo.
I like very much the only other cooperative song, partly troubadour-like, “Yangogo”, sung and composed in cooperation with female singer Sally Nyolo. On this release I understand also well the message of the French songs.
“70 Litres” because of its reggae form is able to come over with its words well, like a political statement.
The compositions does not always come over as direct-cooperative ideas, but also as individual additions, sometimes solo invented in the studio. In that way much of the arrangements in the recording confirms a bit more the approach there already exist towards African music in general, more than there are surprises available made from a heart driven intuitive creativity.
Much more the CD speaks like a movement of consciousness on the move, on the run, leaving a feeling for us, as a matter of speaking, that is lost in the desert, in the context of, of becoming a bit lost in the cities. The statement on the run remains in this nature, music in this form did not yet find a world refuge.