Thursday 23 July 2015, 8pm
Tal National are from Niamey, the capital city of Niger, where they are a domestic phenomenon. In this joyously hypnotic, highly unique contribution to West African guitar music, with its lightening fast rhythms and rotating cast of vocalists, can be heard the history of Niger as a cultural crossroads along ancient trade routes. Collected within the former French colony can be found Songhai, Fulani, Hausa, and Tuareg populations, all of whom are represented in Tal National’s members. In the music we hear the rolling 12/8 rhythms in the Hausa's Fuji percussion, the pensive aridity of the Tuareg's assouf or "blues,” and the exquisite "griot guitar" of Mali's Songhai, all delivered with virtuoso precision and unrelenting energy.
“The music is colorful and bright and dizzying. It recalls the energy and wall-of-sound quality of Konono No 1, except more frenzied and texturally varied. Tal National are masters of lightning-speed time changes too... with a hypnotic psych rock edge… Tal National’s ability to weave together all these thematic and musical elements with unflagging speed and energy is breathtaking.” – Pitchfork
“It's the sound of a group without obvious peer - one has to look back at the golden age of the west African guitar bands to find this level of complexity executed with such brazen confidence and ability” – The WIRE
Tal National are from Niamey, the capital city of Niger. They’ve had several #1 songs in their home country, are constantly featured on national TV - folks in Niger leave their TV’s on and use them as boomboxes - and yet they sell their discs on the street, at roundabouts, since there is no distribution system in the country.
On stage Tal National perform with six musicians, but because of their rigorous performance schedule there might be up to thirteen members at any one time. At shows, musicians regularly change places midway through songs (including the amazing sight of drummers swapping without missing a beat). On some nights the band might split up to play two gigs simultaneously. Their concert material combines original songs with new arrangements of West African folk songs, themes of which deal with love, tolerance, peace, feminine beauty, and the woman's physical dance expression based on traditional African rhythms.