As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Group Doueh
Thanks to Sun City Girl and Sublime Frequencies founder Alan Bishop, the mundane and Afro-centric staleness of the Paul Simon/Peter Gabriel era of “world” music has forever been tossed in the rubbish bin in favor of a truer, more authentic sounds. Simon and Gabriel, for all their considerable talent, sterilized the sounds of Africa, South America, and Eurasia to capitalize on their exorbitant nature. Unlike fellow world traveler David Byrne, those men were happy to cash in on the fad rather than lift it on a pedestal and display it for an American audience whose world musical view rarely explored non-English speaking music.
Alan Bishop’s Seattle-based label has removed all folly and pretense from the category of “world” music, exposing its colorful inner workings rather than slapping a coat of waxy polyurethane to cover up the knotholes and askew grains. Nearly every Sublime Frequencies release has found a wide, if niche audience. Music listeners of every ilk have flocked to a fruitful collections, retrospectives, reissues, and primer kits — and while many have made lasting impacts with the people who have found them, it seems that the Western Sahara family known as Group Doueh has made the most vital and lasting impression.
Treeg Salaam (Streets of Peace) follows up the widely popular 2007 release, Guitar Music from the Western Sahara. The blog community ate the first Group Doueh LP up, spreading its ample seeds to all corners of the internet (and beyond). Treeg Salaam hits just as hard and is just as surprising. Each track may house familiar African and Middle Eastern flavors, much of which has found its way into the modern psych folk movement. However, Treeg Salaam houses a strange and wholly unique psychedelic vibe throughout that isn’t aimed at the druggy or tie-dye crowd, but grows from a place of deepest sincerity. Much how we are being exposed, however minutely, to a culture we will never comprehend, it’s this same filter that finds a home in many of Salmou Baamar’s compositions. We are fed our own musical history, the same history that has slowly circumnavigated the globe only to be assimilated and transformed by droves of open-minded, forward-thinking musicians. Treeg Salaam may represent a slice of life we are not privy to, but in the grander scheme it is a daring piece of anthropological evidence that the Western world, for all its preconceived evils, can be a provider of hope, inspiration, and celebration. Treeg Salaam is a bright, shining olive branch that we all dare to grasp in a show of friendship. What our government and our religions are trying to do to bridge the ever-closing global community will forever ebb and flow between success and failure but the world’s musicmakers will forever be involved in a true global community that, as weighty as it sounds, is captured by Group Doueh and Treeg Salaam.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.