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Album Review

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.


Formed: 01 January 1980 in Tidene, Niger

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Meditative and earthy, Niger-based musician Bombino conjures the expansiveness of the Sahara landscape. Born in 1980 as Goumar Almoctar in the nomadic Tuareg encampment Tidene, Bombino came of age during much political upheaval, fleeing with his family to Algeria by 1990 and returning to northern Niger's largest city, Agadez, seven years later, when he took on music professionally. After years of playing with local bands, legend caught up to him, as he traveled to California in 2006 on tour with...
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Agadez, Bombino
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