Wagram WAG32

Nomadic people all over the world suffer the same issues and the North African Touareg are no exception. Their homeland is immense and covers great parts of Southern Algeria and Libya, Mali, Niger and Burkino Faso, thus the Sahara desert. Until the decolonization in the beginning of the 60s, the Touareg suffered severe oppression from the new governments of Mali and Niger. Free spirits are always viewed as dangerous by authorities everywhere and eradication of their views is desired. Such attitudes always lead to the radicalization of the oppressed who soon have nothing to lose. It was just such a situation the young Moussa Ag Keyna found himself in. Atop an inflamed political climate and a serious drought in the middle and southern part of their territory, his Touareg were driven north to Libya and Algeria.

Deprived of their customary trading, the Touareg were out of work and the young were called Ishumar after the French word chômeur for unemployed. Almost naturally, the young unemployed Touareg found shelter with the Touareg Liberation Front and joined their fight against the oppressor regimes of Mali and Niger. So did Ag Keyna. Being part of a revolutionary movement didn't mean non-stop fighting. There was leisure time as well and that meant music. And the beauty of music of course is that it can also act as messenger. In this case it's the Desert Blues. Moussa Ag Keyna had his own desert blues band called Toumast. The word toumast means identity which says enough.

When Ag Keyna was seriously wounded in the leg, he got sent to France for treatment. It was in the musical and cultural melting pot of Paris that he found himself joined by his niece Aminatou Goumar. When the two met with multi instrumentalist and arranger Dan Levy, the idea for a record was born.

Toumast turned trio now produced Ishumar as a well-balanced mix of traditional desert blues and funkier Parisian influences. On a whole, the recording has that mesmerizing guitar-based sound that is also key to Ali Farka Toure. But Toumast goes further with the truly haunting vocals of Aminatou and the addition of strings and soprano saxophone beside some African percussion instruments. Ag Keyna's guitar style is more Rock-driven than traditional and with the underlying bass lines and strong percussion, this turns many of his songs into real foot stompers. The liner notes reveal the lyrics to be on love, the troubles of living in exile, the longing for the old desert life and are all sung in Berber Arab

Not surprisingly, the mastering fancies loud. We found an average dynamic "range" of about 7 to 8dB and some benign clipping.