Posts Tagged ‘kel assouf’

Kel Assouf – Tikounen | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on July 2nd, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Nigel Williamson

Kel Assouf - Tikounen Cover

Proof there’s no such thing as too much good desert blues

Can you have too many Touareg guitar records? Not when they’re as potent as this second album from Kel Assouf, which rocks harder than perhaps anything yet to emerge from the genre. The rock heft comes from the distinctly non-Touareg rhythm section of bassist Mathieu Mirol and drummers Sam Gysel and Alex Rodembourg, whose grooves pound and shake like a cross between Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Queens of the Stone Age and Rachid Taha at his heaviest. The keyboards of producer Sofyann Ben Youssef add further textures seldom heard in desert blues and the guitar-playing of the band’s leader Anana Harouna is quite different from the serpentine template created by Tinariwen.

Perhaps it’s because Harouna has spent the last decade in Brussels, but this is a distinctly urban take on a desert nomad’s reverie. Toulou Kiki Bilal adds female backing vocals and percussion and wrote three of the dozen songs. But the narrative belongs to Harouna, from the militancy of ‘Medden’ on which he pays tribute to the ‘Sahara’s fighters’ and ‘our martyrs’ sacrifices,’ to the jagged rock thump of ‘Europa’, in which he describes the years of exile and dreams of returning home.

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Top of the World July 2016: The best new releases

Posted on June 10th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

Our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the July (#119) issue.

Fanfare Ciocărlia
Onwards to Mars! (Asphalt Tango Records)


Balkan brass band Fanfare Ciocărlia offer 14 tracks on their latest record, released in celebration of their 20th anniversary in the music business.
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Elza Soares
The Woman at the End of the World (Mais Um Discos)

Elza Soares - The Woman at the End of the World Cover

Elza Soares, now in her late 70s, demonstrates why she is considered one of Brazil’s best samba singers in a bold release that is a fiery mix of original, uncompromising tracks.

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Kel Assouf
Tikounen (Igloo Records)

Kel Assouf - Tikounen Cover

Another guitar group to come out of the Touareg music scene, Kel Assouf return with a strong, rocking second album. Powerful rhythms and contagious grooves are aplenty on this feisty record.

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Leyla McCalla
A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey (Jazz Village)

Leyla McCalla

An outstanding sophomore album from the young cellist and banjo player. Three years on from her stellar debut, McCalla once again draws from her Haitian heritage and Creole influences.

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Matthias Loibner
Lichtungen (Traumton Records)

Matthias Loibner - Lichtungen Cover

Austrian composer Matthias Loibner possesses extraordinary skill on the hurdy-gurdy; his new album shows the astonishing range this unusual instrument has in his hands.

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Maarja Nuut
Une Meeles (Maarja Nuut)


Fiddler and singer Maarja Nuut delivers her experimental second album – an exceptional listen that draws influences from her Estonian roots and displays her promising talent.

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Melt Yourself Down
Last Evenings on Earth (The Leaf Label)

Melt Yourself Down - Last Evenings on Earth Cover

Utilising abrasive sounds and forward-thinking production, the London-based band Melt Yourself Down show they are a force to be reckoned with on this game-changing album.

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Derek Gripper
Libraries on Fire (Derek Gripper)


With great aplomb, the South African takes on the compositions of the great 21-stringed kora players on his classical guitar. Gripper’s delicate transcriptions deliver beautiful results.
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Mahsa Vahdat
The Sun Will Rise (A Cappella) (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)

Mahsa Vahdat - The Sun Will Rose Cover

Vahdat is one of only a few female singers living in Iran to record regularly outside the country, and here she produces a profoundly personal album with no instrumental accompaniment.

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Live: The Farewell Tour (Navigator Records)


Bellowhead’s final album highlights the 11-piece big band in blistering live form. Known for their fantastic live shows, the album exhibits why these guys will be dearly missed.
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