GB 091CD GB 091CD

On Tamotaït, Tamikrest's fifth studio album, the music blazes bright and long. With the political situation so volatile and desperate in the Saharan ancestral lands from which Tamikrest come, this is more than an album. Tamotaït means hope for a positive change. Change as in an end to the fighting that's plagued northern Mali and the wider region for the past several years; change such as the chance to prosper within their own homeland -- Azawad -- a proto nation that the nomadic Tuareg (or Kel Tamasheq as they prefer to be called) briefly possessed in 2012. It's assouf, music forged in exile. Because of the toxic regional conflict, for much of the last decade the founding members of Tamikrest have not lived in Kidal, Mali, the desert crossroads town where the band began in 2007. They live in Tamanrasset (Algeria), Paris, and at times along the desolate Algerian/Malian borderlands. Yet, exile can also mean the hope of return, and on "Amzagh" and "As Sastnan Hidjan", the two tracks the group sees as pivotal to understanding the themes of Tamotaït, Tamikrest sing of the possibilities that lie ahead for the Kel Tamasheq people. The music builds and builds, the dual, intertwined guitars of Ag Mossa and Paul Salvagnac relentless and insistent, until it finally all boils over. It also brings light and warmth and comfort, and its glow fills the beautifully aching "Timtarin", where the band is joined by an ideal collaborator, the renowned Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra. Tamotaït is the most expansive and adventurous album that Tamikrest have made, exploring every corner of their sound. There's even music they made far from the Sahara -- in Japan. On tour there, Ag Mossa had been very taken by the sound of their traditional instruments. Tamikrest's plans to record there were almost derailed by a typhoon. But one track does appear on the album: the final cut, "Tabsit", with its atmospheric, gossamer melody. The shamisen and five-string tonkori of guests Atsushi Sakta and Oki Kano glide around the guitars to create a piece where the desert truly does meet the Rising Sun. Most of Tamotaït, though, was recorded in rural France, working with producer David Odlum (Glen Hansard, Gemma Hayes, Tinariwen), stepping up from his mixing role on the band's 2016 release, Kidal (GB 043CD/LP). Tamikrest have become one of the best rock n' roll bands in the world.