Hoon’s Tunes and Muso Favorites 2014 – Africa

NOURAMINTSEYMALI

AFRICA
Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni

Produced and recorded across an appropriately dizzying array of locations and social contexts (New York City, Dakar, Nouakchott) the album Tzenni is a contemporary articulation of Moorish griot music from Mauritania—an artform that has been evolving and gaining momentum for centuries—as voiced by Noura Mint Seymali, an artist profoundly steeped in its history and rigorously devoted to its global resonance.

Noura Mint Seymali comes from a long line of visionary musicians. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, her father, was a scholar-artist instrumental in opening Mauritanian music to the world; devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting music for the national anthem, and composing works popularized by his wife (Noura’s step-mother), the great Dimi Mint Abba. From her precocious beginnings as a teenaged backing vocalist with Dimi Mint Abba, Noura Mint Seymali now drives the legacy forward, re-calibrating Moorish music for our contemporary moment. Her band’s arrangements, rigor, and experimental spirit may be understood as a continuation of the tradition of Seymali, Dimi, her grandmother Mounina, and countless others.

Together with her husband, heroic guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who brings the force of yet another powerful branch of Moorish musical lineage, the band on this recording was conceived as a distillation of essential elements, the “azawan” and the backbeat. The ardine & tidinit (or guitar) together are the “azawan,” the leading ensemble of Moorish traditional music, while bass & drums, played here by Ousmane Touré and Matthew Tinari, fortify it with genre transcendent funk and a basic pop urgency. Tzenni re-visits several classics of the Moorish repertoire, but does so within a novel formation, conversant in the pop idiom, and with Noura Mint Seymali’s personal history interwoven throughout. The practice of aligning music to a given socio-historical and personal moment is an essential charge of the iggawen, or griot, and, we believe, of artists everywhere.

As we seek to convey another turn in the Mauritanian musical dialectic, Tzenni is ultimately an album about shape shifting, faith, and stability found through instability. It’s about taking the positive with the negative in a world that can only ever keep turning at break neck speed. We invite you to spin with us, to dance with us, through the music on this rec

Noura Mint Seymali is one of Mauritania’s young celebrities, a griot from a celebrated musical family, who started out as a backing vocalist for her celebrated stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba, and has now developed an exuberant, full-tilt style of her own. She accompanies herself on the ardine, the nine-stringed harp traditionally played only by women, but the songs are dominated by the furious, stuttering electric guitar work of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who is also an exponent of the traditional, guitar-like tidinet. This is an album of gutsy, declamatory playing and singing, from the slow and then exuberant traditional love song El Barm to the powerful, chanting Tikifite, a Dimi Mint Abba favourite. (The Guardian)

OTHER GEMS
Kasai Allstars – Beware the Fetish
Tinariwen – Emmaar
Aby Ngana Diop – Liital
Tony Allen – Film of Life
Zongo Junction – No Discount
Anansy Cisse – Mali Overdrive
Lala Njava – Malagasy Blues Song
Chiwoniso – Rebel Woman
Mammane Sanni Abdoulaye – Taaritt
Sinkane – Mean Love
Young Fathers – Dead
Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 – A Long Way to the Beginning

REISSUE
Verckys et l´Orchestre Ve?ve? – Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969?-?1978

OTHER REISSUED GEMS
William Onyeabor – Boxset 1&2
Francis Bebey – Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984
Kassa Tessema – Ethiopiques 29 Mastawesha
Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako – Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako


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