Niger-based guitarist Mdou Moctar channels "Tuareg melodies and Eddie Van Halen" on new album Afrique Victime

What would a guitarist equally inspired by Tuareg melodies and Eddie Van Halen sound like?

If you guessed Mdou Moctar, we’d be impressed… and you’d also be correct.

The Tuareg guitarist and songwriter has just announced his new album, Afrique Victime, which his label, Matador Records, describes as “boldly reforging contemporary Saharan music and rock music by melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations on love, religion, women's rights, inequality, and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers.”

In advance of the album’s release you can check out the new single, the hypnotic and decidedly acoustic guitar-flavored Tala Tannam, above.

Tala Tannam means ‘your tears,’ ” Mdou explained. “It is another love song of which I’m very fond.”

Mdou Moctar album

(Image credit: Matador)

Prior to Afrique Victime, Mdou, who hails from Agadez, a desert village in rural Niger, released 2019’s critically-acclaimed Ilana: The Creator album and also wrote, produced and starred in the first Tuareg language film, a remake of Prince’s Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai – which translates to “Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It.”

Describing Ilana as a “late ’60s/early ’70s ZZ Top and Black Sabbath record,” Afrique Victime is posited as a “mid-’70s to early ’80s Van Halen-meets-Black Flag-meets-Black Uhuru” effort, with more diverse sounds and styles thrown into the mix.

“While people have gotten to know Mdou Moctar as a rock band, there is a whole different set of music with this band done on acoustic guitars, which we wanted to incorporate into this album in order to go through a sonic journey,” Moctar said.

You can hear Moctar channel his electric guitar furies in the explosive album opener, Chismiten, above.

Afrique Victime is out May 21 and is available for preorder now at Moctar’s official Bandcamp page.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.