”When the nine-piece approached their instruments on stage resplendent in traditional dress, it was with the quiet unassuming modesty of true professionals”
Brought to Liverpool’s Kazimier through the Africa Oyé festival alongside Harvest Sun, Tamikrest’s inimitable amalgamation of traditional African beats and Western psychedelic rock created a tangible intrigue which hung in the air as the group took to the stage at 9pm. With Josh Ray’s DJ set providing an eclectic introduction to the hypnotic vibes of Mali through the sounds of artists such as Ali Farka Touré and Tinariwen, Tamikrest were placed among the masters of their craft even before taking to the stage.
When the nine-piece approached their instruments on stage resplendent in traditional dress, it was with the quiet unassuming modesty of true professionals; the set began with a single keyboard note and the noodling of guitarist Ousmane Ag Mossa. Vocalist Fatma Wallet Cheick moved the music from the acoustic ‘Timtar’ into the infectious groove of ‘Imanin Bas Zihoun’ with regular hand claps, her elaborate tunic swaying in time to the opening track of their latest album, Chatma (Sisters), which chronicles the group’s moral indignation at the hardship of their own Tuareg women.
Our enthusiastic crowd takes up the clapping and dances along to the syncopated rhythms of the djembe drum, which leads the percussion section and pervades every corner of the room. Ousmane pauses mid-set before ‘Tisnant An Chatma’ and the room falls silent. He explains that during the Malian civil war in the 1990’s, Tamikrest lost family members and friends in the fight for autonomy and after the 2006 conflicts, the group decided to raise awareness of their country’s hardship through their music instead of joining in the violence; he dedicated the following song to the fallen freedom fighters of Mali.
Tamikrest are a somewhat mysterious group whose addictive traditional rhythms are reminiscent of fireside gatherings with friends and family. But the powerful messages behind their music were not lost on The Kazimier crowd; the group themselves acknowledge the influences of Bob Marley, Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix in their sound, making it somewhat unsurprising that the conglomeration of these legends with the rhythmic and instrumental foundations of Mali creates such wonderful music. Africa Oyé festival in Sefton Park last year was a fantastically eclectic experience, so the rumour of Tamikrest’s participation there next year should definitely bring in the crowds. Trust me, you want to experience this.
Check out Tamikrest’s session at the Festival Musiques Métisseshere