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Mdou Moctar - Funeral For Justice (Album Review)

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 Written by Jo Higgs

Credit: Ebru Yildiz

The contents of ‘Funeral for Justice’ are as incendiary and engaging as its title suggests. It is a statement of intent that is driven through these fierce, twanging songs, where Mdou Moctar (the stage name of both musician and band, Alice Cooper-style) commits to an uphill battle for what is right, pushing back against colonialism and cultural erosion with grit beyond reach of most musicians.

Here, the Nigerien group push their increasingly iconic sound — a mixture of Tuareg guitars and searing heaviness — further and further. On Imouhar, a lilting number full of Hendrixian trills, they burst into a fearsome diatribe on the importance of preserving native languages, with their own Tamasheq tongue threatened by the increasing dominance of French. Its final two minutes are thrillingly subsumed by wailing psychedelic noodles and the slap of drum skins before the call of  “imouhar” (“comrade”) is heard one final time. 

On Takoba, guitars are stacked into a crumbling wall of sound that is eventually broken down by smashing staccato stabs, leaving a bassline to briefly crawl from the rubble.

Tchinta is an energetic romp that will be a fixture of live shows for years to come, with the  crowd standing agape, wondering how Moctar is able to sing while shredding with such speed, accuracy and intent.

Djallo #1 is disappointing not only for its brevity but also for its teasing a potential Mdou Moctar approach more focused on the incorporation of other atmospheric noises without fully going for it, but ‘Funeral for Justice’ ends with album highlights Oh France and Modern Slaves. These songs are are better listened to than read about – their intentions are hardly opaque to anyone with the slightest understanding of colonial history.

The album is awash with the grooves and melodic devices that endeared a great fan base to ‘Afrique Victime’ and Moctar's earlier works but ‘Funeral for Justice’ delves further into the morass and stands as their greatest blending of modern rock and traditional Tuareg music so far.

Mdou Moctar Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Wed July 03 2024 - LONDON Electric Brixton
Mon September 02 2024 - GLASGOW Saint Luke's
Tue September 03 2024 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Wed September 04 2024 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club

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