Thursday, March 7, 2024

Album Review: Bombino - Sahel

**** out of *****

The first new album in five years (since 2018's Deran), Bombino returns with his swirling displays of Tuareg guitar delights on Sahel

For each of his past full lengths Bombino has successfully worked with a different producer including Dan Auerbach, and Dave Longstreth. For Sahel he partnered with producer David Wrench (David Byrne, Frank Ocean, Caribou, The xx) and the album was recorded at Studio HIBA in Casablanca, Morocco. While producers are always a factor in the music, Bombino seems to shift and move his sound with the producers, yet this time things feel well lived in and fluid, not the pop excursions one might expect from Wrench. 

The repetitive swirling with background synths, cool percussion and cutting guitar lines that kick things off on "Tazidert" followed by the acoustic guitar supported by a big bass groove and layered vocals on the following "Alwane"; this pairing is a signal as to what is to follow throughout Sahel. Bombino and company go back and forth between electric and acoustic with ease as the sounds shift and swirl in the desert sun and cool night air. 

Perhaps the highlight on a solid album is "Aitma" which is the most Western rock focused with great electric guitar tone to start from Bombino, huge rock drums and a raging Tuareg get down to close. "Si Chilan" possesses a great groove with spiraling guitar runs while the groove shifts to an acoustic vein with percussion and finger snaps on "Ayo Nigla".

The swelling drums, vocal whoops and meaty riffs dominate the strong "Darfuq" while "Ayes Sachen" moves into an almost reggae like vibe. The swirling fretboard runs, bright clean playing dominate the head bobbing "Nik Sant Awanha" while two acoustic numbers wrap up the record, the cool grooving "Itisahid" and softly swaying folk tune "Mes Amis" which shows off excellent picking from Bombino. 

A rock solid album from top to bottom, Sahel, continues Bombino's strong run of powerful music. 

Support the artist, buy the album, peep some video below:

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