Raised Omara Moctar in Agadez, Niger, Bombino has quickly matured into a young master of the desert-blues. The singer and guitarist got his start as the protégé of Saharan guitar legend Haja Bebe, and eventually Bombino developed his own robust take on the Tuareg style which pushed him onto the international stage. Bombino’s latest recording, Nomad, came out this week on Nonesuch and was produced by Dan Auerbach. The pairing makes good sense. Bombino’s style of guitar playing shares some musical kinship or root tenet with Auerbach’s, especially when one considers The Black Key’s early infatuation with the hypnotic Mississippi bluesman, Junior Kimbrough.
Nomad plumbs the depths of Bombino’s groove rather than its repetitive, meditative width. This approach evokes a fresh energy and heavy feel from Bombino’s sound. Longtime listeners will recognize a few songs and guitar motifs on Nomad from his previous recordings–Agadez and Sublime Frequencies’ Guitars from Agadez, Vol. 2–but the fully figured arrangements and Nashville studio flourishes manage a new texture for Bombino’s oft-pondered musical gestures. A few of Auerbach’s studio fetishes, new (vibes and steel guitar) and old (Farfisa organ) are folded into the mix, and the parts combine in a way that sounds both cosmopolitan and mythologizes his remarkable story and musical foundation. words/a spoto