Sahel Sounds is one of the best labels in America. Every release is a incredibly ripe fruit picked from the bursting tree of the music of the South Sahara. It's an incredible in a “how the hell are they pulling this off?” kind of way; from their seminal Music for Saharan Cellphones cassette, in which the group recorded hot singles that were transferring virally throughout the markets of the Sahel via cellphone SD cards, to their more traditional field recorded comps like Ishilan N-Tenere, which I wrote about here, label head Chris Kirkley is doing amazing work in the documentation and collection of this music for extra-African consumption.
The latest release is Alkibar Gignor, a garage band from a small town called Niafounke. As the birthplace of Ali Farka Touré, one of Mali's musical legends, Niafounke already has a rich musical history, but Alkibar Gignor are not just playing handmade acoustic guitars; they are a full-fledged rock-and-roll band, combining the traditional vocal harmony with blistering electric guitars. I dare you to listen to the album closer, “Tamala”, without experience a positive mood revision. This music is incredible, but it's also incredible that we get to listen to it at all.
The full album, La Paix, can be streamed and downloaded from the Sahel Sounds Bandcamp, with much of the profit going directly back to the artists. You can also buy a vinyl from the distributor for Mississippi Records/Sahel Sounds, Little Axe.