Guitars From Agaedez (Music of Niger) came out just over a year ago on Sublime Frequencies in a limited LP run and sold out almost immediately upon release. Fortunately, for those that missed out, the label decided to reissue the album on CD. Led by guitarist Bibi Ahmed, the group blends together everything from psychedelic blues, folk, and rock together in a way that sounds incredibly fresh and raw, as two guitars and drums mix together with a male lead vocalist and a female background chorus.
Recorded live, these ten tracks don't always start at the beginning of a track nor end quite when you'd expect. At times they sound sharp and near soundboard, and at others the recording practically bleeds from overload as half the music seems to get lost in the tape and background. As mentioned above, though, it's invigorating and intimate, and from the opening licks of "Kuni Majagani," you feel like you're right up in the room. It kicks off the release with repetitive, almost incantation-like vocals, and then it's right into "Awal September," and it's here that the group really lets loose. As the male leads and the guitars themselves rumble through lower registers, the background singers take off, adding harmonies through the end of the verses before lighting up the recording with shiver-inducing trills.
"Nadan Al Kazawnin" is one of the songs I mentioned above where the recording quality is even more substandard, but the sheer blurring of sounds only adds to the psychedelic quality of the music, with guitars that are so ragged that they sound like other instruments, and vocals (and crowd noise) morphing together into one weird head-trip. While it's true that several of the songs on the forty-minute release unfold with a similar sound, it's the slight variations and sheer energy that make it a release worth having. "Tenere Etran" and "Telilite" both have the same sorts of stuttering, ragged backbeats and odd, semi atonal, dry guitars and crazy background vocals, but they each move with just enough of their own identity that you'll find yourself latching onto their particular idiosyncrasies and hollering along. If you missed it the first time around, don't sleep on this reissue.