KEL ASSOUF is psychedelic desert blues from Niger via Brussels. Produced by Sofyann Ben Youssef (Bargou 08, AMMAR 808), Kel Assouf’s 2019 album ‘Black Tenere’ (Glitterbeat) is a milestone: African trance rhythms melted into the energy of vintage rock bring a significant new vibration in desert music. With his new minimalist power trio, including Sofyann Ben Youssef on the organ and Moog SUB 37, and Olivier Penu on drums, Anana Harouna goes straight to the point. His revolt against injustice is made explicit by the saturated voice of his guitar, as a support for his militant lyrics.
As far as we can go back through the history of the Tuaregs – a name that has been added to them, themselves preferring “Kel Tamashek” – we find the struggles of a people to preserve their nomadic status, free of borders. ‘Black Tenere’ is infused with an energy that never sleeps; that of the revolution against oppressions and injustices, be it in the time of colonialism, or today, through a much more insidious seizure (but well real).
Life in the desert is a constant reminder of the values of the Kel Tamashek people, and therefore a philosophy of the essential that sounds like a teaching. Ariyal: To you materialist, when you lose all your markers, fade back to square one.