Les Filles De Illighadad - Eghass Malan LP
Label: Sahel Sounds
Future Tuareg music from the female led avant-rock group Les Filles de Illighadad. Mixing traditional percussion with electric guitars, Les Filles brings ancient village folk music into the modern era. Drawing on traditional tende music, the forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar, Fatou Seidi Ghali and Les Filles breathe new life into the genre. Hypnotic guitar riffs, driving rhythm, and polyphonic resonant vocals combine to create organic sound, that is both timeless and natural. A wholly original project, from a band that just last year had never left their village. Eghass Malan is their first studio production. Les Filles are all from Illighadad, a secluded commune in central Niger. The sound that defines rural Niger is a music known as "tende". It takes its name from a drum, built from a goat skin stretched across a mortar and pestle. It is a music form dominated by women. In the past years, certain genres of Tuareg music have become popular in the west. International acts of "desert blues" like Tinariwen, Bombino, and Mdou Moctar have become synonymous with the name "Tuareg". But guitar music is a recent creation. In the 1970s young Tuareg men living in exile in Libya and Algeria discovered the guitar. Lacking any female vocalists to perform tende, they began to play the guitar to mimic this sound, replacing water drums with plastic jerrycans and substituting a guitar drone for the vocal call and response. In time, this new guitar sound came to eclipse the tende. If tende is a music that has always been sung by woman, the Tuareg guitar was its gendered counterpart. Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and performer of Les Filles is one of the only Tuareg female guitarists in Niger. Sneaking away with her older brother's guitar, she taught herself to play. While Fatou's role as the first female Tuareg guitarist is groundbreaking, it is just as interesting for her musical direction. In a place where gender norms have created two divergent musics, Fatou and Les Filles are reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, so popular in contemporary Tuareg rock bands, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water. Recorded on their debut tour in Europe after just a handful of concerts, Eghass Malan maintains a feeling that is spontaneous and inspired.