When: Mon., July 11, 6:30 p.m. 2011
Among the fixations of Seattle's Sublime Frequencies label are raw sounds from the Sahara, and last year it released Guitars From Agadez Vol. 2, a schizophrenic collection by Niger's Group Bombino—essentially guitarist and singer Oumara "Bombino" Moctar and whoever's around. The first half, culled from archival tapes, is gentle and mostly acoustic, but the second—recorded live by label producer Hisham Mayet—is electrified, primitive, and furious. I like both, but judging by Bombino's excellent solo debut, Agadez (Cumbancha), he's more interested in the former. He recorded it in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Agadez, Niger, with players from Niger and the States, and it recalls the music of Mali's mighty Tinariwen—hardly surprising, given that Bombino is also Tuareg. He layers acoustic and electric guitar parts, undergirded by syncopated clapping, hand percussion, and lean bass lines, to form a rhythmically intricate lattice of propulsive licks, acid stabs, and snaking leads. Agadez sounds slick compared to the amped-up half of the Sublime Frequencies disc, but that only goes skin deep—Bombino's clenched, nasal singing perfectly complements the restrained, meditative music, leaping out of the hypnotizing grooves with the force of a spell caster's incantations. This is his first visit to Chicago. —Peter Margasak Bombino also plays Friday at the Dave Matthews Caravan and Saturday at the Chicago Roots and Folks Festival.