The sound of the Sahara comes out tops in the year of lockdown

The music of the Sahel, the desert and savannah lands of West Africa, doesn’t usually get much international attention.

But this year the music critic of the New Yorker, one of the world’s most prestigious publications, has declared Etran de L’Aïr by Sahel Sounds, a group from central Niger, to be the best album of the year.

Amanda Petrusich describes their guitar albums as “giddy and mesmeric rock sounds” that have “made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about rock music.”

The band began as a trio of brothers, but now nine family members are involved in the music.

She writes: No. 1 (one of the tracks) was recorded live, outside of the band’s compound in the outskirts of Agadez, and it contains absolutely everything I have desperately missed about non-virtual concerts: heady, spontaneous grooves, the sound of people clapping, involuntarily loosed whoops. 

“I put it on whenever I need to be reminded of what it feels like to be outside, among friends, happy, dissolving into sound.”

She rated Agrim Agadez as the best song of the year.


Video source: YouTube

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