Friday, April 12, 2013
Live from Festival au Desert (Clermont Music)
Timbuktu was long a symbol of all things distant and exotic; in recent years the ancient city was the site for an annual international musical event, the Festival in the Desert, and the focal point for an indigenous genre that brought age-old syncopation together with bluesy electric guitars. Live from Festival au Desert was recorded just days before civil war broke out in Mali in 2012; Timbuktu soon fell to Islamic fundamentalists who outlawed music and destroyed anything of value they touched. With performances by local heroes such as Tartit and Tinariwen as well as acts from elsewhere in Africa, the album preserves an event from happier times. This year’s festival has been postponed, but organizers hope to revive it when politics permit.