Album: Dirtmusic, BKO (Glitterhouse)

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The Independent Culture

Perhaps it's because the Australian /American trio Dirtmusic was itself formed from members of other bands – variously, The Walkabouts, Come and Bad Seeds – that it collaborates so seamlessly here with the Tuareg group Tamikrest, whose own debut album was released just a few weeks ago.

The collaboration began in tents pitched alongside each other at the 2008 Festival In The Desert, and was consummated the following year in Mali's Studio Bogolan. Opener "Black Gravity" is typical, with the parched tone and slow camel-gait of Tuareg desert-blues supporting English and Tamashek verses offering different apprehensions of haunting alienation.

Elsewhere, "Desert Wind" finds Hugo Race writing in the tight, poetic form of the Tuareg, with Ousmane Ag Mossa twining tendrils of lead guitar around Chris Brokaw's slide banjo riff; the instrumental "Niger Sundown" offers a delightful blend of banjo, slide guitar, ngoni and balofon; and songs such as "Ready For The Sign" and "Lives We Did Not Live" employ the North African cyclical guitar figures to hypnotic effect. The Velvet Underground's trance-pop classic "All Tomorrow's Parties" is a desert-blues makeover of swirling guitar drones and febrile hand percussion, with Tartit singer Fadimata Walett Oumar's wails piercing its progress.

Download this Black Gravity; All Tomorrow's Parties; Desert Wind; Niger Sundown; Lives We Did Not Live