Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni ba and Tartit – the Barbican, 29 September 2008

I was really looking forward to this. There is a lot of ‘World Music’ about these days but I feel that Bassekou Kouyate still has a freshness about him that is hard to ignore. I was bowled over by Segu Blue when it came out. Bassekou Kouyate‘s energy on stage was contagious and his joy was evident for all to see. mapsadaisical has a good review of the gig (with photos) so there’re no need for me to go into too much detail…

But Tartit won me over. I’d never heard of them; I hadn’t even paid any attention to the fact that they were part of the gig!

It’s easy to liken their music and style to that of Tinariwen. Tartit are also a Tuareg group from Mali. But there’s something about Tartit which is raw in the sense that they’re not yet the ‘cool’ band to see. They are being discovered now and their sound is still very much theirs. Pure.

Their outfits were stunning and hinted at the mystery that the Tuareg are. And when they introduced themselves as a Tuareg band from the Timbuktu region, I was entranced.

The songs were punctuated by what seemed like impromptu dancing and clapping… and you felt transported, almost, to the desert, with Tartit sitting in a semi-circle, as if around the fire, passing the evening.  This feeling was reinforced when one of the women said that it can be harsh living in the desert; there is little water; no educational facilities and no health posts… but it is their home and they love it…

Tihar Bayatin, the camel song, was fun. Fitting also that Tartit should have a song to celebrate camels; the Tuareg being so dependant on them. The guttural sounds and the dancing did lift the audience. You can listen to the track for free on

In the Barbican pamphlet, one of the female member of the band says: ‘Among the Tuareg, everybody makes music. In the camps, all the children and young people would gather together between the tents, singing and dancing‘.

What a discovery!

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I'm an inquisitive being. Everything is an adventure: art, architecture, colours, food, patterns, people... and travel! And I love elephants. That's what I mostly write about.
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