Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou [Clermont Music, 2020]
From Timbuktu, as we spell it, four or five male blood relatives shout and expostulate their songs in Tamashek, Songhai, and it says here French and English as they thrash and manipulate their ngoni-like tehardents. Whether conjoining barely coexisting peoples or boosting kind women who are better than they are, both of which they make sound worthy and neither of which they make sound easy, they will get your attention, guaranteed. If you like desert music enough to suspect you've heard it before, you haven't--Tinariwen are showbiz by comparison, Tamikrest urbane, Tartit cute. And should you instead suspect that this noisy, indelicate stuff is the roughest African music ever recorded, that's because you haven't heard their 2012 debut. A-