Produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, Tuareg musician Bombino’s third solo album Nomad (2013) is a testament to the constant cross-pollination taking place between modern African and Western music. Born in Niger in 1980, Omara “Bombino” Moctar discovers in the early 1990s the traditional guitar-based “Ishoumar” music style of Inteyeden Ag Ablil – one of the founding members of Tuareg band Tinariwen – as well as the music of Tuareg artist Abdallah Oumbadougou.

Bombino - Nomad (2013)
Bombino – Nomad (2013)

Constantly on the move for economic and political reasons and travelling between Algeria, Libya, Niger and Burkina Faso, Bombino comes across videos of Western guitarists (Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix are often mentioned) and absorbs their techniques. Likewise, American musician and producer Dan Auerbach who was aware of Bombino’s music though his previous album Agadez and his YouTube videos invited the African musician to his own Nashville-based Easy Eye Sound recording studio in late 2012.

Above all, Dan Auerbach offered us the chance to record the music we wanted, without trying to modify it.  He respected what we were doing, listened to us a lot in the studio and then took the time to select the tracks he liked. Bombino interview – Libération

Mainly recorded live, the ensuing Nomad sessions captured Bombino’s raw sound where his hypnotic guitar licks take centre stage. Subtle layers of organ, pedal steel guitar and even vibraphone never deter from the natural and organic flow of his music which was already evident on his first solo album Agamgam 2004. Recorded ten years ago in the Ténéré desert, the album was an acoustic “field recording” which also featured the songs “Imuhar”, “Aminidine” or “Amazane Tiliade”. The international success of Nomad prompted the Glitterbeat record label to reissue an LP version of the first album.

But regardless of the acoustic or electric nature of Bombino’s songs, his music is imbued with the same irresistible free spirit, that of a 21st century nomad.