on life, music etc beyond mainstream


Tinariwen: Amadjar / Oren Ambarchi: Simian Angel




The idea of overdubbing contributions from Western admirers has been a controversial one in African music ever since Brian Jones added stereo phasing and echo effects to live recordings of the Master Musicians Of Jojouka. Amadjar’s most ear-catching guest appearances are not in fact the tasteful selection of fiddle, guitar and mandolin cameos respectfully patched-in in absentia by a grizzled Bad Seed, a Sunn O))) mainstay and Willie Nelson’s son, but rather the trio of collaborations with Mauritanian griotte Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband Jeiche Ould Chigali, which Tinariwen travelled for almost two weeks to Nouakchott to record in a desert camp. Tinariwen’s familiar blue note electric guitar glimmer – which is to 75 Dollar Bill as Muddy Waters was to The Rolling Stones – has never sounded better than it does with those two on board, and this whole album is a desert rock classic.


Ben Thompson, Mojo






I listened to it last night, on headphones – all windows directed to the vast nothingness of the universe that possibly  hosts no god, no other life. But creepy objects, black holes and brown dwarfs. Heaven seems to be the most lonesome place, where nothing really happens, at least from  the point of view of gardening and Japanese tea ceremonies. But what do I know? Well, of course, we had the moon landing, and we do have the astral space music of Sun Ra. Our dreams anyway. Strange enough, we can still feel peace when looking at the night sky. And here we are in company of Oren Ambarchi‘s „Simian Angel“, two long compositions that, in a sophisticated  way, defy definition, limits, opening a constant feel of joy and wonder, kling and klang. A touch of kosmische music here and there. His guitar sounds like a synth, and an organ, most of the time, and when he plays what sounds like a piano (and is again, made with his guitar – must be a special treatment really!), you might feel, for a moment, a „Music For Airports“-vibe – just another illusion, up, up, and away, with the blink of an eye. His partner is Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, and when he starts on berimbau at the beginning of vinyl‘s second side, you are in wonderland. Yes, I thought, for another sequence of seconds, of Nana Vasconcelos‘s famous (or not so famous) solo album „Nana Vasconcelos“, the one with violins and violas coming completely out of nowhere, and knowing about Oren‘s passion for a lot of ECM records, I‘m quite sure he might have had a similar memory, for a moment. The music is crossing area after area, you are not able to, and surely not keen on marking a spot. All exit signs on! The earth is never solid, and even the percussion is an invocation of ego-less drifting in the windmills of your mind. Not all riddles solved, be sure.


Michael Engelbrecht, Deutschlandfunk 

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