Bombino

Agadez

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The Tuareg sound has received a bit of airplay over the last few years, with sounds from deep inside the Sahara getting exposure almost as a follow-up to the coastal sounds popularized by players like Ali Farka Toure. Among the newest stars is Bombino, a Tuareg guitarist who honed his craft largely while living in Algeria before returning to Niger (specifically to Agadez, as the title suggests) with his bluesy but surprisingly clean sound. Where other desert players tend to delight in feedback and fuzz, Bombino's chords are meaty, powerful, but always clean and precise. With a band in tow, he'll set up a slinky backing groove before alternately crooning and chanting (again, similar to influences like Toure), and twisting Santana-like solos out of his instrument. The music can be hypnotic in its relaxation and repetition of grooves, and in its sudden bursts of overpowering technique. Regardless of the specific song or the specific technique in use though, Bombino remains a powerful and interesting player, taking the next step past the well-regarded West African guitar sound into a slightly edgier territory, both geographically and musically.

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