Bombino | Niger

Bombino | Niger

The Jimmy Hendrix of the Sahara; Niger’s Bombino mixes inspiration from the city life of Agadez, with the repetitive beauty of the Saharan dunes. He brings forward an eclectic mix of styles with his music, making a fusion between traditional Berber rhythms and blues-like riffs. Bombino oozes with passion when he plays, it isn’t often that you see a musician get completely taken over by the sounds that he makes. It is with this soulful interpretation of African music that makes Bombino stand out as an artist.

Omara ‘Bombino’ Moctar was born in Niger, and spent his infancy in an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs which is located around 80 kilometres to the northeast of Agadez. As a member of the Ifoghas tribe, he was raised as a Muslim and taught to highly value his honour, dignity and generosity. This moral code is a large part of the Tuareg lifestyle and played a defining role behind their hundreds of year-long fight against colonialism and the implementation of strict Islamic rule. For Bombino, this meant for an unsettled life, having to go into exile numerous times in order to escape the conflict between the local government and Tuareg rebels. During this treacherous period in the Sahara, musicians such as Tinariwen made popular songs which declared the rights and heritage of the Tuaregs. It is with these roots that Bombino’s music began to blossom into a culturally rich and original sound.

During Bombino’s exile in Burkina Faso, filmmaker Ron Wyman heard rough cassette recordings of his music and decided to find him in order to encourage Bombino to properly record his music. Soon after they met, Bombino agreed to this and the two of them produced an album together. Agadez is a masterfully written album and soon after its 2011 release it climbed to the top of the iTunes World Chart. One of the distinct songs from the album is Mahegagh (What Shall I do); it’s the perfect adventurer’s soundtrack, keeping a steady and rhythmic pace with native percussion, while his guitar riffs create a beautifully executed ornamentation over the top. It would be hard to mistake the geographical location of Bombino’s music, never have I heard a landscape so beautifully illustrated through music.

The success behind Agadez brought Bombino into the Western spotlight, his music ended up in the hands of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and in July 2012, he began producing Bombino’s second album, Nomad, which will be released under Nonesuch Records. The time has finally come for its unveiling and after the first few days of the release, it has already got critics raving with delight. Although Bombino and Auerbach don’t share a common language, it is incredible to think how much this album relies on intuition. The prior fact makes you think about where we’d be without music, the universal language of the people. It is this concept that helps bring his music to an international fan-base that will only continue to grow.  With help from Auerbach, Bombino’s music has developed in such a way that his uniquely raw sound is still preserved, while he also manages to perfectly showcase his prodigiously written guitar riffs. Nomad is an album that provides a cross-cultural revelation and highlights the beauty behind an honest collaboration between two music lovers. TETO World Music is also proud to present you with the following video, giving an insider look of how Nomad was made.