Tamikrest – Chatma (2013)
It isn’t easy following in the steps of Tinariwen, but Tamikrest are the brightest young contenders among the new Tamashek-speaking desert blues bands mixing traditional styles with elements of indie rock. Driven from northern Mali by the fighting and imposition of sharia law, they are currently exiled in Algeria, and their new set is a concept work, dealing with the courage of Tuareg women and the suffering of the past year. But the music is anything but bleak, driven on by sturdy bass, insistent percussion, and gently driving and inventive guitar work from lead singer Ousmane Ag Mossa, who also duets with the band’s fine female singer Wonou Walet Sidati, formerly with Tinariwen. It’s a refreshingly varied set, from the slinky and optimistic Tomorrow, Another Day to the atmospheric mix of wailing guitar and voices on the gently drifting The Journey, influenced by Pink Floyd.