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''ISHUMARS LES ROCKERS OUBLIÉS DU DESERT''
(NIGER, 2007) @
To understand what is the Desert Rebel project,
we invit you to read the review below written by Daniel Brown in march 2007
for the mondomix.com website. Good reading...
Born in 2005, the Desert Rebel collective is the result of the encounter of Niger Tuareg Abdallah ag Oumbadougou with former Mano Negra guitarist Daniel Jamet, Guizmo of the Tryo band and Amazigh Kateb, leader of Gnawa Diffusion. The concept was the brainchild of French director François Bergeron and Farid Merabet, impresario for the Bérurier Noir group. Parallel to their musical activities, the Desert Rebels hope to stimulate debate around fair trade. In 2007 they released the CD/DVD Ishumar, les Rockers Oubliés du Desert
Ishumar, les Rockers Oubliés du Desert
"Ishumar" is an altered Berber form of the French words "les chomeurs", or people on the dole. It designates the thousands of Tuareg youth from the Sahara who were forced to abandon their traditional rural activities to find work in mainly Algerian cities. They were caught in a spiral of violence and poverty in the desert regions of Niger, Mali, Lybia and Algeria. Singer-guitarist Abdallah ag Oumbadougou has very much been at the heart of their tragic story, enduring poverty, exile, armed conflict and stints in prison during his 44 years on earth. Abdallah's self-taught guitar-playing began at 16 and his compositions reflect of his people's dislocation, revolt and grief. In much the same way as Tinariwen, he has moulded a Tuareg blues centred on a barren form of electric guitar and songs in his Tamachek language full of a form of detached nostalgia.
For years, Abdallah's songs were banned by the Niger government and those in possession of his cassettes were threatened with fines, prison â€“ or worse. Since the peace accords of 1995, however, the singer has returned in triumph to his homeland. He has allied a successful recording career with activities to preserve his community's culture and promote young artists.
For the last two years, Abdallah has been assisted by leading members of the alternative scene in France. Collectively known as Desert Rebel, they have released their first eponymous CD in 2006, and Ishumars Les Rockers Oubliés du Désert this year. The latter is more successful in relating Abdallah's vocal and compositional talents.The Tuareg musician is ably assisted by the driving gnawa bass and singing of Amazigh Kateb, as well as noted contributions by the likes of Sally Nyolo, Imhotep and Junior Cony.
There is also the welcome alliance of Abdallah's traditional tempos and instruments with hard-driving rock guitars, and even the didgeridoo on the second song (rather mystifyingly, there are no song titles on the album, nor who is playing what...). The 15 tunes dip and rise unevenly with some mystifying additions of French rock or even an R& B song that seems to have crashed the party accidentally. Yet, it is the soft and soothing voice of Abdallah that dominates this CD. He brings the power of injustice and anger to the fore in an understated and restrained way that has a hypnotic force to it. It makes up for a disappointing DVD documentary that does little to reflect the tragic history of this forgotten people.
Six percent of the album's profits will go to the Takrist'N'Tada association that is devoted to development as well as Abdallah's music schools in Niger.