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Wammers Album Club - 28th October - Noura Mint Seymali 'Tzenni'

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Plenty of possibilities, but I think it's time for something totally different… 'Tzenni' is a very recent (June 2014, on the Glitterbeat label) album from Mauritania's Noura Mint Seymali (and band) and it's great. The album I've listened to most, and enjoyed most, recently.

61BWvDNYSoL._SL500_AA280_.jpg

The band is three Mauritanians - Noura Mint Seymali (a Mauritanian griot and daughter of the composer of the Mauritanian national anthem) on vocals and 9-string harp, her husband on guitar (and the guitar playing is fab throughout), a bass player - and an American-born drummer, who’s also the producer.

Think of this as a kind of modern Mauritanian ‘Liege and Lief’ – traditional griot/Moorish music with a full electric band. It’s a debut album and not too many reviews, but it tends to get called ‘psychedelic blues’ and lumped in with Tinariwen and Tamikrest and the like, but this is a more groovy and exotic sound, having a more Middle Eastern feel than the bluesier Malian bands.

Anyway, you can read more at http://noisey.vice.com/blog/noura-mint-seymali-is-the-psych-blues-artist-from-mauritania-you-need-to-know-about and http://thequietus.com/articles/15764-noura-mint-seymali-interview-tzenni if interested.

It's kept short at 41 minutes and 10 songs and it's a stormer from start to finish. No filler, no stinkers, no tepid ballads to make things more accessible, yet avoids the "get's a bit repetitive" problem that some of this North/West African music can fall into when strung out for an album. Tracks 2, 5 and 10 are especially great.

Spotify: Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni

Deezer: http://www.deezer.com/album/7849034

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tzenni-Noura-Mint-Seymali/dp/B00JK4K14M

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Guest MJ.

Fantastic, appetite whetting write up.

Really looking forward to this.

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what's a griot?

sounds v promising anyway but google knows nothing!

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Sounds promising. I like the write up as it contains key phrases such as ‘psychedelic blues’ and 'groovy and exotic sound'. A brief listen suggests that I won't be moaning on about the lyrical content anyway. :zip: Very much looking forward to this as I had read the article in The Quietus and intended to follow it up but promptly forgot to do so.

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what's a griot?

sounds v promising anyway but google knows nothing!

A griot (/ˈɡri./; <small>French pronunciation: ​</small>[ɡʁi.o]), jali or jeli (djeli or djéli in French spelling) is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet and/or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition, and is also often seen as something of a societal leader due to his traditional position as an adviser to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, he is sometimes also called a bard. According to Paul Oliver in his book Savannah Syncopators, "Though [the griot] has to know many traditional songs without error, he must also have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene. His wit can be devastating and his knowledge of local history formidable". Although they are popularly known as "praise singers", griots may also use their vocal expertise for gossip, satire, or political comment. :geek:

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A griot (/ˈɡri./; <small>French pronunciation: ​</small>[ɡʁi.o]), jali or jeli (djeli or djéli in French spelling) is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet and/or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition, and is also often seen as something of a societal leader due to his traditional position as an adviser to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, he is sometimes also called a bard. According to Paul Oliver in his book Savannah Syncopators, "Though [the griot] has to know many traditional songs without error, he must also have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene. His wit can be devastating and his knowledge of local history formidable". Although they are popularly known as "praise singers", griots may also use their vocal expertise for gossip, satire, or political comment. :geek:

Cheers Notty. Isn't is amazing and somehow reasurring to hear that these skills and traditions still exist. Imagine a culture that values such things over iphone apps?! Unbelievable!

Sarcasm aside, now really looking forward to a blast tomorrow.

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Guest MJ.

God, the anticipation builds. This had better live up to the marketing hype.

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I wouldn't worry too much about the griot part, just that being a singer/musician tends to be hereditary in West Africa. Here's some historical Mauritanian griot music...

[video=youtube;u_DrD_34bpI]

You can hear the blues in that but it's seriously weird to the Western ear. Historically speaking, I reckon psychedelic blues really fits. :D

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In some ways the nearest thing to this in my collection is Goat, largely for the groove, and it is not really that close. I really enjoyed listening to this the first time because it is so different. To use the classic phrase but with different punctuation (and in a good way): 'What the fuck is this? Shite!'

For such complex music there is a beautiful sense of space and clarity in the recordings. The singing is wonderful too. There is a bit of me that would like to know what the lyrics are about, but that never stopped me listening to Liz Fraser and Lisa Gerrard (amongst others).

I would be interested to hear her other LPs, but seemingly they are not readily available (yet).

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There is an explanation of each song at http://label.glitterhouse.com/artists.php?show=65

I'll post some links to earlier stuff tomorrow. Only handful of songs, different and not as raw but a couple are really good. Apparently two earlier albums exist but only in Mauritania so not sure if proper label and would be impossible to get hold of.

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From 2006: Ennass and Idilli - first track is very different, very poppy and not very good, but second track you can hear the roots of the sound they have hear, albeit in a softer, funkier form.

A couple from 2010 at https://myspace.com/nouramintseymali - track 01 is more ballad-y and melodic than on this. Track 02 Mado is seriously good.

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Excellent this. Anything that drones is good in my book :)

She has a great voice and I love the way the guitar is almost sung with her following her lead. It almost has a breathless quality and some of his runs and trills seem to be exhaled just as he runs out of breath! I wonder how he is doing that? It sounds like he is not picking the strings and is just playing the neck of the guitar. Anyway a great find and as you say Notty, not a duff track on it. :^

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There's some big time praise for the guitar playing at http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame/p09721.htm "Had this guy been around in the 70s and toured with the era's psychedelic bands, we would've carried him around on a palanquin after each concert. His style is literally unbelievable, magnificent, something tried a few times (listen to Kaleidocospe's Seven Ate Sweet for an approximation), but never so authentically nailed ... and I'm telling you right now, Chighaly is one of the world's great guitar players, hands down" :D

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