The power trio is back with Black Tenere, a radical new album.
Produced by the band’s keyboardist Sofyann Ben Youssef, the mastermind behind the highly touted AMMAR 808, the new album strips things back to a power trio lineup and focuses on the crackling, forward-looking energy of Nigerien front man Anana Ag Haroun’s next level Kel Tamashek (Tuareg) rock songs.
Anana exudes a steadied yet powerful charisma when he walks onto a stage. Wearing his trademark Panama hat and holding one of rock and roll’s most archetypal guitars – a Gibson Flying V – both his presence and his music personifies the interconnected paths he has travelled in the past years. Born and raised in Niger, but transplanted to Brussels eleven years ago to be with his wife and to raise a family – he acknowledges there is a duality to his world-view: “My three daughters were born in Belgium, so the country became a part of my identity. These days I’m a Belgian when I’m in Niger and a Nigerien when I’m in Belgium.”
Kel Assouf’s musical journey has flowed seamlessly from the well-spring created by Ishumar desert rock pioneers Tinariwen – that Haroun first encountered as a young musician in Niger – towards sonic horizons that include the rock classicism of groups like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age and the club beats and astral ambiance of European electronic music. On Black Tenere, the band pushes these different textures and influences towards a persuasive, raw-edged crescendo. Ag Haroun see’s the path to the new album and its new sound this way: “my musical tastes didn’t change but they are expanding further thanks to my different encounters and my curiosity. Black Tenere is a rock album. it’s a choice to give a more original touch that builds up the identity of Kel Assouf and differentiates it from the other groups of Ishumar music. For me the music has to travel and it has to be open to other sounds so that everyone can listen to the messages it carries.”
Discover the album teaser and single “Alyochan” below.