July 14, 2015 by BOB BOILEN •
The music I feel most connected to beyond rock is from Mali. The melodies are so fluid, so elegant and most of all so trance-inducing. It often sits on one chord and notes played revolve around that chord. It can feel like a drone at times, and in the case of Songhoy Blues it rocks, lulls and the percussion grooves are not only trance-inducing but dance-inducing.
Many of the musicians we know from Mali are in exile, driven out by Islamists threatening musicians and kidnapping them; the members of Tinariwen know this firsthand. There is sadness, defiance and celebration in the music Songhoy Blues brought to the Tiny Desk from a record called Music in Exile, which is co-produced by an artist most of us rock lovers know best from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Zinner. Rock and the desert blues, already closely connected in attitude and sound, fuse nicely with his touch — and can be felt in blissful rawness here.
“Sekou Oumarou” 00:00
“Al Hassidi Terei” 03:46
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Brian Jarboe; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Elena Saavedra Buckley; photo by Lani Milton/NPR