Etran Finatawa’s back-story is resonant — the 10-piece unit from Niger features members from two traditionally antagonistic ethnic groups, the Tuareg and the Wodaabe. But each of the band’s four albums plays easy and cuts deep, whether you know the first thing about the band or not. The Sahara Sessions isn’t markedly different in tone than their first three. Dry-toned, fleet-fingered guitar runs dance atop ruminative rhythms, like a mind unreeling after a long day’s work. Lead singer (and lead guitarist) Ghalitane Khamidoune’s warm, slightly parched voice is conversational and full of gravity without sounding heavy-handed; the pinched pitch of second lead Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla lends the stretched vowels of “Djojaréré” a kind of homespun surrealism. Simple tunes like the easy-swinging “Matinfa” and its more searching twin “Is Ler Is Salan” keep opening new doors. Few desert-blues bands are this captivating; in fact, few bands are, full stop.
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.11.14 in Features
Five music critics discuss the best, worst, and most significant moments in Latin music this year.
By Michaelangelo Matos on 12.08.14 in Reviews
For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it's not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo...
By Claire Lobenfeld on 11.29.14 in News
Spice, Jamaica's queen of dancehall, is gearing up to release her debut EP So Mi Like It. With her contribution to Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop," another bananas collab between the two called "Conjugal Visit" and her most...
By John Schaefer on 11.24.14 in Reviews
In this 50th-anniversary romp through Terry Riley's In C, a brilliant ensemble of Malian musicians (mostly playing traditional instruments) joins forces with Damon Albarn, the globetrotting frontman of Blur and Gorillaz;...