Few records due this fall have made me as happy as Kanni (which is due from Fat Cat on September 10), the stunning new album and first internationally available release from Niger's Tal National. The band's native land isn't a place that springs to mind when one thinks of African music, and indeed, the album feels like a crafty, hard-hitting hybrid of sounds assimilated from all around the continent, especially Congolese soukous and Ghanaian highlife—at times the spiraling, fast-moving, clipped guitar notes remind me of Thomas Mapfumo's chimurenga sound. The record was cut in Niamey with Chicago engineer Jamie Carter, who got a wonderfully aggressive yet clean sound from the guitar-driven sextet—the marriage of frenetic rhythms pounded out with a drum kit and some kind of talking drum and sparkling, stinging contrapuntal guitar is totally infectious. Just as impressive is the singing—sturdy melodies treated with raspy soul inflections or call-and-response declamations—which rides the guitar lines like a raft rushing down white-water rapids. Tal National is about to embark on its first-ever U.S. tour, and its second and third stops are in Chicago as part of this year's World Music Festival: they play Mayne Stage on September 18 and Martyrs' on September 19. Today the Reader is pleased to present the exclusive premiere of "Tchana," one of the album's most careening, fleet tracks, which rides heavily on the mbalax groove of Senegal, particularly the surging tama beats.