Group Inerane

Guitars from Agadez, Vol. 3: Music of Niger

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Receiving some recognition from their earlier releases (also on Sublime Frequencies), the Nigerian guitar outfit Group Inerane have built a following, holding the standard for the "third wave" of trance guitar from Niger, following megagroups like Tinariwen and lesser-known bands within the Tuareg areas. Since their previous recordings, Inerane lost a guitarist (to the Tuareg rebellions in northern Niger) and added a respected player as his replacement. The result is a still-grandiose understanding of the elements of trance music. The guitars drone endlessly, but vary their sound as they buzz and pluck. This is music that is at once ecstatic and groove-laden, exotic and personal. The album starts out in fine territory, with a relatively traditional item amped up for modern taste, heavy on trance elements and fuzz-rock sounds. As the music progresses, Inerane show off a West African blues form that recalls that of players further south -- Ali Farka Touré in particular. The deep bass evokes Moroccan sounds (the Gnawa music popularized by parties like the Master Musicians of Jajouka), and the vocals aim toward a straightforward trance music (also like the Gnawa, as well as the Sufis farther east). This is music that uses ethereal sounds to accentuate gritty, dirty guitar fuzz, with thick feedback over the top of plaintive, moaning vocals. The way the sound flows, and the timbres encountered, may make Tuareg rock something of an acquired taste. It won't take long to acquire with recordings like this, however.

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