• Artist: Tamikrest
  • Album: Kidal
  • Country of Origin: Mali
  • Released: 2017
  • Genre: Rock, World Music
  • Available on: Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube
  • Recommendation by Ian Magnuson

Again, another article is stricken with the most generic of genre titles “world music”. My understanding is that this is just lazy thinking by the music industry who are worried labeling the wide variety of musicians in this category would decrease sales… or something.

Taking my tinfoil hat off for a second, some of you may be surprised to learn that Timbuktu is an actual city in Mali! What is probably less surprising is that some great music comes out of this west African nation (also home to the supposed richest man in world history). I was initially only familiar with the country due to this same rich guy, Mansa Musa, being a character in my beloved Civilization IV video game. Tamikrest is certainly just one of many up and coming bands from the area. Perhaps unfortunately, their story is deeply tied with the political turmoil of the area. Tamikrest began as a group of friends at an international school in their region of Kidal, the desert northeast of Mali and home to the Tuareg people.

Mali has been wracked with chaos in the past few decades with a civil war in the mid-90s and a series of terrorist attacks in the past 5 years as a result of a bloody war for independence by various ethnic groups, including a subsection Tuareg separatists. Without going into too much detail, the source of the conflict can be largely lain at the absurd borders drawn during the decolonization movement of the 1960s, splitting, among many others, the Tuareg people across five neighboring countries. This chaos and struggle has led the members of Tamikrest to take to music instead of weapons in the fight for their national identity.

Fusing traditional music of the “Kel Tamsheq (as the Tuareg people call themselves)” with modern western rock music, they’ve created a fascinating sound that is unlike almost anything I’ve ever heard. Ethnically related to the Berbers, Tamikrest fuses some “middle eastern” sounds, for lack of a better term, with classic rock drums and bass to create a moving and enigmatic sound that certainly feels at home in the desert of Kidal. While I won’t pretend to understand what they’re singing, you simply don’t need to to understand the music, or at least that’s my opinion. Anyway, if you feel totally lost, give War Tila Eridaran a try and see what I mean.

Notable songs:  Marwarniha Tartit, Wainan Adobat, War Tila Eridaran