Dusted Features

Face the Musician: Bombino’s Agadez

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Face the Musician is based on the idea that discussion of an album shouldn’t end with its review, because there’s always more to say. So we invite the musician back — not to critique the review, but to talk about their work with the review as a conversation piece.

Face the Musician: Bombino’s Agadez

  • Read Dusted’s review of Bombino’s Agadez by Bill Meyer

    Ben Tausig: Bill suggests that this album is a star turn, in everything from sound to presentation to its high-profile collaborations. Is this in fact the move you were trying to make?

    Bombino: There are no guest stars on this album. Nothing fancy. This album was about pouring out what has been in my heart for several years. It’s a very personal work. It was done in Agadez where I live and also we recorded parts of it in Cambridge in the U.S., in Ron Wyman’s house. We were in his house because Ron Wyman was able to get us there to record. We floated the calabash in a bathtub, we used closets to isolate amplifiers, and put up blankets. If we needed to record the entire album in the middle of the desert, we would have done that. Much of it is recorded that way, in fact — live in Agadez.

    Tausig: What happened to the "group" in Group Bombino?

    Bombino: Sublime Frequencies decided on the name Group Bombino for the album they released. We did not have contact at that time. My name as an artist is simply Bombino so that’s why I am known that way now. It’s really as simple as that.

    Tausig: The review only touches briefly on the relationship between displacement and music, but surely the Tuareg Rebellion and its lingering consequences have continued to affect your work. How was this album — in terms of both the songs and the recording process — touched by the conflict?

    Bombino: Throughout my life the Tuareg have been in and out of rebellion with the government of Niger. I grew up in this instability. There was tension. I started to play guitar when it was illegal to play it as a Tuareg in Niger. People pay attention to music looking for leadership, and I am aware of this when I write my songs. I think and I hope that my music helped to convince people that the war was not worth fighting — that is was time to return to Agadez, create tourism there, and so forth. Enough with the mistakes, it’s time to return home and rebuild our country. Now that I have a daughter, I simply hope and pray that she does not go through the same struggles that we have had. No more problems between us. This is why I dedicated the album to Agadez.

    Tausig: This review, like much American and European coverage of music from elsewhere in the world, mediates its interpretation at several points through western artists and production aesthetics. How is it for you to read coverage of your music that brings up names like Richard Thompson?

    Bombino: People are always going to compare one artist with another. That is normal and I expect that. For me, it is an honor beyond words to be compared to top artists from anywhere. I am just happy that I have had the chance to get my music to many more people in the world. If people enjoy it, that’s great! They can compare it to whomever they want (laughs)

    Tausig: Can you talk a bit about the first time you met Sublime Frequencies and what your eventual arrangements with them were?

    Bombino: Hisham from Sublime Frequencies came to visit Agadez a few years ago. A friend of Hisham knew me as an artist here and he introduced us. He immediately wanted to make an album. We met a few times and finally he came with a contract and made a deal to release an album of my music recorded live. He came to record a live album of a concert I played for a marriage in Agadez. Then I didn’t hear from here for a year or so. I didn’t speak to him again until I was in Boston, recording for my new album Agadez.

    By Ben Tausig

    Read More

    View all articles by Ben Tausig

  • ©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.