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Speed of Sound: Modu Moctar

Mdou Moctar isn’t one to sit still. Over the past decade, the Niger-born guitarist has been gigging almost constantly, honing his raw-edged, wailing blend of desert blues and explosive rock on stages around the world.

Singing in Tamasheq and often dressed in a traditional tagelmust veil, Moctar – real name Mahamadou Souleymane – has become an axe-wielding cultural ambassador for his Tuareg people. His shows are as entrancing as they are unpredictable, as he delivers scorchingly propulsive songs that decry the lingering effects of European colonialism in Africa, backed by a tight trio of musicians he mostly met while gigging hundreds of weddings across Niger. 

“I don’t just sit down in the house with my guitar,” Souleymane says during a rare moment of stasis without his instrument, contently perched on a couch in New York. “I record with the sun and nature and everything that is going on around me. I need to know what my feelings are for the world and that connection is how I get ideas to write songs.”

Read the feature in Crack Magazine.

[This piece was published on 26/04/24]

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