Forced to flee the crisis in the north of Mali, these “children of the country” met in refugee camps in 2012. It was the music of their Tamasheq culture, part of Mali’s cultural heritage, that acted as their haven and survival strategy. To ensure a resulting album worthy of its story, the group recorded in Ali Farka Touré’s old studio, the spirit of the Niger River blues guardian watching over them.
From the first five guitar notes, this single sets the pace. A first extract from the forthcoming Manamosse Kaltamasheq, “Bariz” reflects the group’s overal aim: to blend Tamasheq culture in a rhythmic mix of blues and rock. Aratan N’Akalle presents their sound as both a poetry of love and a nostalgic tribute to their culture. Under the mastery of their deceased artistic director, the illustrious Malian bluesman Vieux Farka Touré – son of Ali Farka Touré, the young musicians transpose their sweet and bitter poetry to a wild rhythm in memory of Bariz, the warm sand district of Timbuktu. Their song becomes a real hymn that can be whispered, shouted or danced to.
Having returned to Mali a few years ago, these young musicians have made it their mission to participate in social cohesion through their music. Through this, they proudly share Tamasheq culture and hope to put an end to the stigmatisation to which their Northern Malian community has been subjected. By drawing on the “Assouf” musical current (“nostalgia” in Tamasheq), they find a source of appeasement and reconciliation both with themselves and with the rest of the world. The result is a music that lives up to the international reputation of Mandingo music, where the guitar riffs travel through time and experience, simultaneously happy and sad, reflecting life in all its mystery.
The album Manamossé kel tamasheq will be released on January 22 via Guess Africa.
Listen to Aratan N’Akalle in our Songs of the Week playlist on Spotify and Deezer.