These two bands from very different parts of the world first met at the Festival of The Desert 2008, in Essakane, Mali and spent 3 days jamming together non-stop.  Both are, of course, predominantly guitar-driven: Dirtmusic, with 3 veterans from an American/indie background and Tamikrest, a new Malian Touareg band.  This meant that the concert at the Borderline would be an opportunity to sample how they had grown together in the past two years. Dirtmusic opened with Aghaly Ag Mohamedine, on djembe. The guitars, words, harmonies, a touch of banjo and that lilting rhythm immediately appealed.  Very shortly after, Tamikrest, draped in colourful robes took to the stage and demonstrated what desert blues really means: very solid, melodic bass and drum punctuated by light arpeggios and intricate lead guitar lines. Ousmane Ag Mossa’s soothing voice rode over it all in a very humble and unassuming way. Then Dirtmusic came back on stage and, until the end of the concert, we were treated to a real fusion experience, where the best of two cultures come together and complement each other so well that the result is greater than the sum of both.  It didn’t quite all happen in the way I expected; not two bands but one. This evening confirmed that the future of World Music is assured. Whether covering a Dirtmusic or Tamikrest song, the mix of influences from their individual members certainly enhanced the performance, be it a slide guitar solo from Hugo Race, a wailing backing vocal from Fatma Wallet Cheikh or a rockier drum sound from Chris Brockaw.  Clear feelings of enjoyment could be read in the eyes and smiles of all the musicians and no doubt this image will remain imprinted deep in the audience’s hearts. 

Joel Roszykiewicz

Published in SONGLINES Issue 69 July 2010

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