Mdou Moctar’s “Chismiten” is electric, dynamic desert blues

Jeff Terich
Mdou Moctar Chismiten

Mdou Moctar made his name on a Tuareg adaptation of Prince’s legendary Purple Rain, so showmanship and some truly dazzling guitar playing are all part of the presentation for the Nigerien guitarist and songwriter. His new single “Chismiten” is a prime example of how Moctar’s hypnotic guitar-playing style and penchant for climactic, psychedelic desert blues come together into an eclectic and dynamic whole. Indeed, the very first thing you hear on the track is a swirl of righteous riffs that feel like an organic extension of Moctar himself—as if he merely channels them in a trance. But as his fretboard begins to smoke and the beat picks up behind him, from out of nowhere come a series of “whooooo!”s, evoking the feeling of being in front of him, watching him shred in real time. It’s a feeling we’d all like to experience again, certainly, but even on earbuds or low-budget computer speakers, the feeling of hearing “Chismiten” is electric.

From upcoming full-length, out in 2021 via Matador

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