Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Achaka Achail Aynaian Daghchilan” by Tamikrest from the 2013 album Chatma on Glitterbeat.
“A desert hosts us, a language unites us, a culture binds us.” That’s the mantra of the Tuareg musical collective Tamikrest, whose mixture of Western and African music was first created in response to a wave of riots in Mali in 2006. Opting to protest through art rather than violence, musicians Ousmane Ag Mossa and Cheick Ag Tiglia played music as their way to draw attention to the Tuareg Rebellion. After meeting more musicians interested in their cause, the now-sextet joined began collaborating with members of the American-Austrailian band Dirtmusic, whose Chris Eckman has produced each of the band’s three releases, including last year’s Chatma (Tamashek for “Sisters”), which the band wrote in tribute to the women who have suffered in the wake of civil unrest in Mali. “Achaka Achail Aynaian Daghchilan” is a slow, meditative song, carried by crisp acoustic guitars and well-timed strikes of electric guitar chords that create a growing tension throughout the song. Traditional African percussion keeps the tempo at a sturdy, mid-tempo drive, but as the song enters its final minute, Ag Mossa’s vocal performance cedes the spotlight to a searing, spacious traditional blues solo. It’s calm, but powerful, evoking a stirring reverence that needs no translation.
Tamikrest will spend the first part of the year touring in Europe, but if they make it Stateside in 2014, they’ll announce those plans on their website and Facebook. Below, watch the band play “Achaka Achail Aynaian Daghchilan” live for Le Cargo last year.