May 21, 2014

Noura Mint Seymali | Tzenni

ARTIST: Noura Mint Seymali
TITLE: Tzenni
LABEL: Glitterbeat
Noura Mint Seymali is steeped in Mauritanian musical tradition – she is from a griot family, her father invented Moorish melodic notation and adapted the country’s national anthem, and her stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba, was probably the country’s most famous singer. Noura is pushing this tradition into the future with her remarkable quartet and this sensational new album, her first for the international market. Noura has a powerful singing voice that takes full advantage of the microtones that are essential to North African music; she also plays ardine, the Moorish women’s harp. She shares the spotlight with her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who has adapted traditional tidinit (a small lute similar to ngoni) playing onto a modified, effects-laden electric guitar, creating one of the most unique guitar sounds in the world today. The electric bass-drum kit rhythm section has a minimal, funky 1970’s sound reminiscent of bands like ESG or Television – it’s a perfect framework for Noura and Jeiche’s extended explorations. There’s nothing more radical than traditional music played differently; this is the best African album I’ve heard so far this year.
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