Sunday, March 28, 2010

Album Review : Introducing - Etran Finatawa 7*

Etran Finatawa, meaning 'the stars of tradition' are a group of singers and musicians from the Taureg and Wodaabe-Fulani tribes whose peoples live alongside each other in Niger, not always harmoniously. Part of the founding statement of Etran Finatawa was to be a cultural force that might help to unite the two nomadic cultures as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

To be honest, I know almost nothing about North African culture and music. Niger has borders with Algeria and Libya to the North, Mali on the West, Chad to the East, Nigeria and other on the South, and that's it, an entire country I know nothing of apart from its rough position on a map.

The music though, well this is wonderful. Many of the songs are built on repetition and minute variation with chants and vocal solos, sometimes the songs move to a break down with instrumental solos on stringed instruments and scantily strummed guitar. There is a strong percussive pulse that keeps the rhythm of each song moving along, on Lledeman especially the double guitar strum followed by the echoing drum and bell beat is powerful and hypnotic, evoking the aura of the desert and its people.

If you are looking for something really unusual, but with great music and a really special feel to it, the mesmerizing and seductive beats and cadence of Etran Finatawa are a world away from any pop or folk music I have experienced.

Introducing was the band's first album, released in 2005. They have since made two more studio recordings, Desert Crossroads released in 2007, and their most recent album Tarkat Tajje/Let's Go which was released last week.

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