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Mdou Moctar — Funeral for Justice
(Bandcamp no#, 2024, LP / CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-06-05

Funeral for Justice Cover art

It’s been a few years since Mdou Moctar’s previous album, Afrique Victime, during which time he and his band undertook a lengthy two-year worldwide tour. Also during that time there was a coup d’etat at home in their native Niger, and the band was unable to return home as terrorism became more prevalent. Moctar’s overtly political lyrics, sung in the Tamasheq language (translated to English in the album’s booklet) speak to the problems of post-colonial Africa, and the Touareg people, who are now divided up between three countries (Niger, Mali, and Algeria) after the French carved up western Africa in the late 50s on their way to independence, with little regard for the historic, cultural and geographical needs of the local peoples. It’s against this turbulent  backdrop that Funeral for Justice plays out, with lead guitarist / singer / songwriter Moctar and his band — a quartet that includes rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and American bassist and producer Mikey Coltun — delivering their most powerful and urgent performance to date, driven by Moctar’s aggressive guitar, vocals, and poignant lyrics, with the rhythms supported by the rest of the band. The opening title track starts with an atomic blast of guitar energy and continues upward from there. “Imouhar” follows, at first seemingly a more gentle and tame introspective bluesy number, but at around a minute in, all the brakes cut loose and we’re on a runaway train speeding down the tracks, powered by an amazing, lengthy, and unforgettable guitar solo. There are nine tracks total, and not a bad one among them, each building on the strengths of those before them. Other standouts include the overtly manic “Sousoume Tamacheq,” the gentle (by comparison at least) closer “Modern Slaves,” and the masterfully rhythmic rocker “Djallo #1 / Oh France,” two connected tracks that pretty much sum up everything that is great about this band. Fans of hyper-intense psychedelic guitars over complex rhythms will find plenty to enjoy herein.

Filed under: New releases, 2024 releases

Related artist(s): Mdou Moctar

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