Niger band Kel Assouf: “new history of Tuareg music”

Kel Assouf’s Tikounen LP is out on Igloo Records moving the desert rock sound of the Sahara and Niger forward.

The band has evolved greatly from their debut album Tin Hinane (2010). Tikounen (which translates as “surprise”) discusses war, injustice and pollution. “We want to express a feeling of pain. In fact it’s a shout, a scream,” says singer and guitarist Anana Harouna, who is also a member of Tinariwen, an exiled musician from the Sahara and currently living in Brussels where the group formed in 2006. “I’ve been in Europe for ten years but my soul will always be in the desert. Even when I’m here the desert runs through my blood.”

Also on the album with vocals and percussion is Toulou Kiki, who was the leading actress in the critically lauded, multi award-winning film Timbuktu.  She says: “Music is always the easiest way to pass a message. A message of pain, revolution or love can be transferred without hurting anybody. There’s just you, your voice and your guitar. It’s the most beautiful thing there is.”

Kel Assouf (which transaltes as “those with nostalgia” and “sons of eternity” in the Tuareg language Tamasheq) features “heavy rock sounds, with grooves that are much more upfront,” says  keyboard player and producer Sofyann Ben Youssef.

Harouna adds: “It’s a sound which will be new in the history of Tuareg music.”


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