Journey into the World of Mdou Moctar

I'm sure that most of you will notice that some cosmetic changes were applied to the layout of Eclectic Grooves last week. These changes were mostly necessary due to the blog taking almost a minute to load in the past few weeks. I tested the site with the layout changes before finalizing everything, and was happily pleased that it now opens immediately. There are some things that I still need to tweak like getting the podcast player to work properly again, but it's mostly ready for prime time. I would love to hear what you guys think of it, as well as if you have any thoughts on making it even better.

Onto the music...

Mdou Moctar- Chet Boghassa and Maheyega Assouf Igan
From: Afelan [Sahel Sounds, 2013]

I first became aware of Mdou Moctar's music when I heard "Tahoultine" from the compilation called Music From Saharan Cellphones, released on Sahel Sounds in 2011.  This track was dominated by drum machines and Moctar's specially treated vocals sounded like auto-tune to my ears. Suffice it to say that this was not my cup of tea at the time, but six years later I would finally begin to truly appreciate the sound of Mdou Moctar. Last month,  I noticed that a friend on Facebook posted about being excited that Moctar playing a show at a small venue in Portland on September 10th.  Considering that I highly regarded this friend's musical taste, I decided to give Moctar's music a second chance. While I had the show on my radar for awhile, I didn't really decide to go until I saw another person who posted a YouTube clip taken from the show in Oakland the previous night. His emphatic response to what he witnessed was "If you can tonight, just go.. If you can break plans, find a babysitter, get off work, cancel on friends.. all of it - just - go. Last night's performance in Oakland was critical."

After reading his comment and checking out the clip, I was motivated to make it out to last Sunday's show despite already feeling sluggish and knowing that the show wouldn't be over until past midnight. There were no advance tickets available for the show, so I decided to get to the venue an hour before the doors opened to ensure that I got a ticket. It turns out that there was no line when I first got to the venue, but you can never be too safe in these situations. The band was doing a soundcheck when I came in, and I could already tell from the songs that were played during this that it was going to be a special show.

For the sake of brevity, I'm not going to go too in-depth about the opening bands, but I will say that Savila's noir-tinged desert rock was just what the doctor ordered and Galaxy Research provided a punchy mix of space rock, garage, and hard rock that was a perfect contrast to the first band.

Once Moctar's band took the stage, the venue was packed to the gills. I could barely breathe, and had no water to quench my thirst, but was having the time of my life. The music he played throughout the set was trance inducing and intense at the same time. This was nothing like the auto-tuned song that was featured on the Sahel Sounds compilation several years ago. Instead, Moctar's blistering electric Tuareg guitar solos were showcased along with a rhythm section that was so incredibly locked in they had the entire crowd gyrating to the grooves. I've seen many shows in my time here on this great planet, and I can honestly say that this one ranks up there with one of my top five shows of all time.

I have posted two tracks from the 2013 live album Afelan that are the closest to the live sound of Moctar. I hope you enjoy them!

Have a great week!


wow, such a great artist, love his tunes. thanks for sharing!!

Been a while since I had a chance to stop by (see What's Going On over at NSS if you want the skinny). Glad I finally got back. I posted up all the Cellphone releases over at my place & like you, I had heard Moctar but like you was not really impressed by the autotuned sound.

After reading this I sought out Afelan. They had it on youtube, I gave it a listen & yeah, all right. Then I found a FLAC version a freind had snagged off Usenet...really special. Thanks as always for your great taste in tuneage.

Kevin said…
Sorry for the late reply to your comments.

Marcelo: You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by the blog. I'm glad that you are digging the Moctar tunes, and hope you keep coming back here to find new music.

Nathan: It's good to hear from you again, friend. I'm sorry to hear of your recent troubles, and hope that things turn around for you. I'm glad that after reading my post, you were inspired to look into Moctar's other recordings. I hope that you keep coming back as I plan to have some amazing things coming up on the blog soon.



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