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Various Artists

Footsteps in Africa; A Nomadic Journey

(Kiah Keya; US: 18 Sep 2009; UK: 18 Sep 2009)

The PR for the Footsteps in Africa documentary is so Noble-Savage awestruck (“The viewer witnesses the Tuaregs [sic] mode of life, a survival from the soul.”) that one might wonder if the soundtrack is worth a listen. The short answer is yes. It’s a compilation of varied but smartly integrated tracks, some field recordings (“Tuareg Girls in the Village Jam”, “Tuareg Dance Jam”); some written by the film’s composer, Jamshied Sharifi, who introduces a 1970s metal riff into the usual Sahara Blues chugga-chug on “Hyena”; and some performed live by known names such as Habib Koite and Afel Boucoum (“Live Jam Festival au Desert”). The individual people in the field recordings are not credited, which is a pity because there’s some anonymous ululating in “Tuareg Goosi Jam” deserving of recognition. Hearing a song from Tinariwen in this setting is not the same as on its own releases. On its own albums, Tinariwen stands lone and singular, but Footsteps shows you where the band came from, and it gives you rough what it gives you smooth, making it worthwhile.

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