Mdou Moctar

Mdou Moctar

In the crowded scene of Tuareg guitarists, Mdou Moctar stands apart from his peers. Playing in the repertoire of desert guitar popularized by groups like Tinariwen and Bombino, Mdou is pushing the boundaries of the genre with a unique personal sound. With versatile compositions and genre defying albums, Mdou’s music has been an underground success with an international following, set on redefining the sound of the desert.

Mdou Moctar hails from a small village in the Azawagh desert of Niger, a remote region steeped in religious tradition. As a child, he taught himself to play the a homemade guitars, cobbled together out of planks of wood. It was years later before he found a “real” guitar, teaching himself in secret. In an area where guitar music was all but prohibited, he quickly rose to the status of local celebrity amongst the village youth.

In 2008 he traveled to Nigeria to record his first album “Anar.” A psychedelic reworking of the Tuareg sound, the electronic tracks featured innovative pitch bending synths, drum machines, and autotune. In 2010, he teamed up with the label and collective Sahel Sounds, releasing his first international album, “Afelan.” In 2015, he co-wrote and starred in the first ever Tuareg language film, “Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It,” a Saharan remake of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” In 2017, he again shifted gears to another sound with “Sousoume Tamachek,” a mellow blissed out recording evoking the calm desert soundscape, tackling religion, spirituality, and matters of the heart.

In the past years, Tuareg rock music has gotten faster. There is a preference for this new style, both in the raucous weddings of Agadez and in Berlin rock clubs. The wavering guitar solos, rapid fire drums and heavy distortion has become characteristic of the contemporary sound. Mdou takes on this challenge, but with an ear towards tradition. Rooted in traditional, with borrowed polyrhythms of traditional « takamba » and lyrics sung in the style of old nomadic poets, his guitar playing is wild and unrelenting, equal parts nomadic bard and Eddie Van Halen. Mdou Moctar and his band have toured Europe and North America, playing sold out shows from small DIY rock clubs in Portland to New York City’s Lincoln Center. His music has been featured in the BBC, The Guardian, Pitchfork, New Yorker, L.A. Weekly, NPR, Rolling Stone, Les Inrocks, and his film continues to be screened at film festivals around the world. From underground star of Niger to international film star, Mdou Moctar has undoubtedly one of the quickest rises to success.

He continues to tour with his original band.

DISCOGRAPHY

Mdou Moctar – Anar (Sahel Sounds)

Music from Saharan Cellphones Vol. 1 (Sahel Sounds)

Music from Saharan Cellphones Vol. 2 (Sahel Sounds)

Mdou Moctar/Brainstorm – Anar (Sahel Sounds)

Mdou Moctar – Afelan (Sahel Sounds)

Porches/Mdou Split (Seagreen Records)

Mdou Moctar – Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai OST (Sahel Sounds)

Mdou Moctar - Sousoume Tamachek

Horse Lords is the quartet of Andrew Bernstein (saxophone/percussion), Max Eilbacher (bass/electronics), Owen Gardner (guitar), and Sam Haberman (drums) from Baltimore, Maryland. The band plays experimental music with elements of krautrock, post-punk, Appalachian and African musical traditions, polyrhythmia, arcane tunings and modular synthesis. The band uses the just intonation tuning system favored by avantgarde composers La Monte Young and James Tenney, so the musicians are playing hand-modified guitars with repositioned frets, re-tuned and customized by Gardner.

Their debut album in 2012 was praised by critics and the audience, and in the following two years Horse Lords gained some recognition on the American DIY scene, touring with Matmos, Guerilla Toss, and Guardian Alien, and playing festivals such as Hopscotch, NXNE, and Fields Fest. The second LP of the band was released by NNA Tapes in 2014.

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