Mdou Moctar’s sixth album and Matador Records debut, Afrique Victime, finally hits down.
Recorded across four studios and two continents, the album has already drawn universal praise as a powerful rallying call – a melding of guitar pyrotechnics and full-blast noise with poetic meditations on love, inequality, and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers.
Alongside the album release comes the video for the hypnotic song ‘Taliat’. “Oh poor girl / She gave him her heart and he broke it / I pray to God to never experience unrequited love and the pain of a broken heart” Moctar sings in Tamasheq over lyrical electric guitar runs and ecstatic rhythm. “Taliat means woman,” Moctar says. “In our community, women are queens, they have a lot of power, that why I use the term taliat to talk about them. A woman in the Tuareg community has to be protected, but she also has to be treated as equal.”
Moctar hails from Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger. Inspired by traditional Tuareg melodies and YouTube videos of Eddie Van Halen’s six string techniques, he mastered the guitar and created his own burning style. The word and the sound travelled across West Africa via mobile phone data cards, a popular form of local music distribution. Grueling DIY world tours and albums on the independent US label Sahel Sounds followed, including 2019’s landmark Ilana: The Creator, which earned Mdou an ecstatic international audience.
Afrique Victime is a result of the combined efforts of Mdou and the members of the band that shares his name: rhythm guitarist and longstanding collaborator Ahmoudou Madassane, who helped form the revolutionary first woman-fronted Tuareg guitar band Les Filles De Illighadad; drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, also a member of both the well-known Niger band, Sultanat Star De L’air and the longest-running wedding band in Agadez; and producer and bassist Mikey Coltun who over the past three years has played over 500 shows on three continents as Mdou Moctar’s bassist, road manager, producer/recording engineer, and friend. Coltun recorded and produced Afrique Victime around the band’s travels in 2019 – working in studios, apartments, hotel rooms, venue backstages, and in field recordings in Niger.
The music listeners are the beneficiaries of the staggeringly powerful do-it-yourself musical ethic of Mdou Moctar – the man and the band – who’ve worked so hard to bring the spirits of families and communities in Niger to the West. Afrique Victime sounds and feels like a Tuareg hand reaching down from the sky, and we are very lucky for this chance to get lifted.
Buy / Listen Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime