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Noura Mint Seymali

Expressive and explosive desert blues

Forget about Jack White. If anyone illustrates blues rock’s continued relevance today, it’s Noura Mint Seymali. Bold words indeed, but we do dare to say so because of the striking energy on Tzenni (2014), her first international release, which makes a good case for postponing the guitar’s burial.

Noura is a brilliant singer in her own right, but it’s through interaction with her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly that she really shines. He has got to be some sort of Mauritanian cousin of Jimi Hendrix, as his explosive guitar playing has the same exceptional ability to convey emotions where speech falls short. When this takes place in duet with Noura – which it usually does – their sonic universe grows into something far greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Although it’s difficult to dismiss the unique connection between the couple, they have worked on this art since their childhood. Both Jeiche and Noura are descendants of the West-African griot caste, which for centuries has had a monopoly on storytelling, poetry and music in the kingdoms situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara Desert.

True to tradition Noura has also mastered the ardine, a nine-string harp reserved for women, while her husband has learned everything he knows about guitars by playing the tidinit for years on end. When it sounds more vital than pretty much all contemporary western blues, it’s worth being reminded that the blue note originated in this area, God knows how long ago.

Text: Kim Klev

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