Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Raw, Raucous,Primitive, Distorted, Enjoyable.
on 14 March 2014
Lets face it there is a lot of "cultural relativism" at work here, by which I mean, we do tend to suspend our critical faculties when listening to "world music". Whereas if you went into your local pub and saw a garage band playing simplistic jams like this, you'd get bored after about 10 minutes. That's not to take anything away from Mr. Bombino though, because his raw talent is there for all to see.
I purchased this as an MP3 album and - in common with "Agadez" - the sound quality isn't brilliant, especially on the "Live" tracks. The "Live" feel seems to come from a lot of distortion not only in the guitars but also in the vocals and even in the keyboards. But for all I know, maybe that's the effect the producer was aiming for. Given that much of the album was recorded in Nashville ( of all places) perhaps they were trying to give the music a rootsy, "african" vibe.
Having decidedly mixed feelings about the Americana instrument known as a 'pedal Steel Guitar" I was initially disturbed to hear it being used- presumably by an Nashville session player- on several of these tracks. However this works surprisingly well; the steel player is inventive and talented, and the instrument "fits in" a whole lot better than you might suppose. As the whole album revolves around only one or two pretty basic "grooves", (and Bombino's vocal range isn't great) , the pedal steel helps prevent the individual tracks from sounding repetitive.
The standout track "Tamiditine" has a distinctly Grateful Dead vibe and is strangely reminiscent of Jerry Garcia's 1972 "Sugaree" , which also makes me wonder if Bombino's influences are all as ethnic as we might at first suppose. But then nowadays, no musician lives in a vacuum.
This is a really worthwhile album, we should enjoy it for what it is- and not worry about what it isn't. The sheer joy in Bombino's playing is unmistakable. This is truly beautiful music. And if there IS a massive jam session going on in heaven somewhere, I bet this is exactly what it sounds like.