(CD - Real World Records / RealWorld/CEMA #USCDR W148)

Review by

They've got those ol' Tuareg blues again, mama, and, as with other bands from the area, it's like listening to some excellent, rootsy rock & roll. The duo of Toumast might be quite primitive (although fleshed out on disc) compared to some of their compatriots, but there's no denying they possess a primal power. Leader Moussa Ag Keyna has served time in Tinariwen, and it shows in the grooves the band creates, which are deep and relentless. However, the problem with that, especially without multiple guitars to create layers of sound, is that it can become repetitive very quickly, and Toumast seem to establish a formula of starting with a guitar figure before plunging headlong into the song. That means "Dounia" and "Amidinine," which bring in keyboards (and acoustic guitar on the latter) tend to stand out and vary the pace a little, to excellent effect. Keyna is an effective, if basic, guitarist, and Aminatou Goumar provides a great foil with a strong desert voice and thundering percussion. Taken on its own terms, this is an excellent album; unfortunately, it can't help but be compared to Tinariwen, the Rolling Stones of the genre, and anything is going to suffer in comparison. Good, and with potential, but they'll need to develop a more individual sound to stand out.

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