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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Tartit

By Phil Freeman
Published August 16, 2007

Abacabok
Crammed Discs

More than two decades ago, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne sang, “The world moves on a woman’s hips.” As far as the nine-piece Tuareg band Tartit are concerned, the world is moved by a woman’s hands—specifically, the five female percussionist/singers who build the trance-inducing rhythm patterns atop which the four men play guitar, bass and violin. This Timbuktu band has toured Europe with Habib Koité, and Abacabok was recorded on a mobile rig by Vincent Kenis, the man responsible for bringing Konono No. 1 to the world. Is that pedigree enough? Never mind the music more than stands on its own. The grooves surge and swell, the guitars twanging like telegraph wires running across the burning sands. Some songs are extremely sparse, with nothing but handclaps and vocals to carry them, but it’s when the band rocks out at full strength that the music’s beauty truly overwhelms the listener.