Group Inerane
Guitars from Agadez: Music of Niger
(Sublime Frequencies)


Psychedelia sure gets around. You can now hear it emanating from the Sahara Desert, thanks to the diligent efforts of the sonic adventurers at Sublime Frequencies. The Seattle label continues its campaign to unearth excellent, obscure music from far-flung places—music that you never knew existed, but once you've heard it, you wonder how you lived without it. This is Sublime Frequencies' special kind of genius.

Group Inerane's Guitars from Agadez wondrously exhibits the Tuareg guitar style, a mesmerizing strain of cyclical other rock unspooling out of northern African countries such as Niger, Libya, and Mali. Led by guitarist Bibi Ahmed (who cites Abdallah Oumbadougou as his main inspiration), Group Inerane create songs that honor nomadic Tuareg traditions and express defiance in the face of government oppression. That most Westerners won't be able to glean a word sung here is irrelevant, because Group Inerane's music is more than potent and liberating enough to compensate.

Lead-off track "Kuni Majagani" establishes GI's modus operandi: mandalas of flinty, coiled electric-guitar figures from Ahmed and Adi Mohamed twine around Abubaker Agalli D'Amall's insistent, odd-metered beats while four female vocalists vehemently chant and ululate like Dark Continent Yoko Onos in a call-and-response trance. "Nadan al Kazawnin" is the rave-up cut here, the one you should play for your hyper friend who craves hard and fast music. Its manic percussion, intensely wound guitars (think Loop covering Suicide's "Rocket USA"), and banshee trills are riotous.

Each of the disc's 10 tracks builds an irrepressible, celebratory momentum, only to be faded out after a few minutes. Theoretically, though, these pieces could roll on forever, sending your mind's eye into ever-madder spirals of transport. The songs on Guitars from Agadez may be about arcane cultural practices and political struggles from a country you'll likely never visit, but their mind-altering/body-moving power is universal. recommended