“Nothing is held back or toned down”: Mdou Moctar has announced a new album that will be “louder, faster, and more wild” than anything before it – hear the electrifying title track, Funeral For Justice

“Nothing is held back or toned down”: Mdou Moctar has announced a new album that will be “louder, faster, and more wild” than anything before it – hear the electrifying title track, Funeral For Justice

“Nothing is held back or toned down”: Mdou Moctar has announced a new album that will be “louder, faster, and more wild” than anything before it – hear the electrifying title track, Funeral For Justice

Mdou Moctar

(Image credit: Matador Records YouTube)

Nigerien guitarist and modern day virtuoso Mdou Moctar has announced Funeral For Justice – his latest studio album, which will arrive in May. The record will see the ‘Hendrix of the Sahara’ blend blues rock with the musical styles of his homeland in an aggressive yet articulate fashion.

The uniquely voiced guitarist has just unveiled the record’s title track, which you can listen to below.

Releasing May 3 via Matador Records, the album showcases the band, the label says, in a “louder, faster and more wild” light than ever before. It’s a record that talks about the plight of Niger and of the Tuareg people.

“This album is really different for me,” Moctar explains, with the fury of his new music written to reflect the African social and political climate.

“The problems of terrorist violence are more serious in Africa,” he continues. “When the US and Europe came here, they said they’re going to help us, but what we see is different. They never help us to find a solution.”

The track offers an explosive three minutes of guitar-led music where emotions are palpable and fierce. During its punching intro, Moctar’s Stratocaster snarls through jolting and disorientating lead lines, with the music of his homeland bleeding through the track’s dizzying, math-rock-esque riffwork.

Its centerpiece hook comprises of few notes and is executed with a fantastic, dislocated legato technique through which the guitar’s single coils bite. It sharply reflects Niger’s unsettled climate and hinges off a lyric that translates to “Retake control of your countries, rich in resources / Build them and quit sleeping.”

“Mdou Moctar has been a strong anti-colonial band ever since I’ve been a part of it,” says the band’s producer and bassist, Mikey Coltun, who joined in 2017. “France came in, fucked up the country, then said, ‘You’re free.’ And they’re not.

“I wanted Funeral For Justice to shine with the political message because of everything that’s going on. As the band got tighter and heavier live, it made sense to capture this urgency and this aggression – it wasn’t a forced thing, it was very natural.”

Damon Locks of the Black Monument Ensemble, meanwhile, has described Funeral For Justice as “music made in the spirit of energetic transformation”, adding that the record “transports the listener into the heart of the music of Mdou Moctar”.

The album also hopes to help preserve the Tamasheq language, which is at risk of dying out. Moctar is one of a meager number of people in his community who knows how to write it.

Says Moctar: “People here are just using French. They’re starting to forget their own language. We feel like in a hundred years no one will speak good Tamasheq, and that’s so scary for us.”

Mdou Moctar

(Image credit: Ebru Yildiz)

Consequently, the new album is lacquered with a spirit of rebellion and defiance. For Coltun, who grew up in the DC punk scene, he sees plenty of parallels.

“This is no different,” he explains. “[When they play], it’s a DIY punk show: people bring generators, they crank their amps. Things are broken, but they make it work.”

Those parallels have helped the band find success in the US, which the band is keen to continue to build upon. Back in 2022, Moctar jammed with Richard Fortus and Baroness’ Gina Gleason, which saw the guitarist labeled as the “Hendrix of the Sahara”

The quartet – which is completed by rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane and drummer Souleymane Ibrahim – will play Coachella in April, with a US headline run following in June.

For the band, it’s vital they continue to convey their politically fuelled messages through their music. In July ’23, after the record had been completed, Niger’s democratically elected government was deposed in a military coup.

Mdou Moctar

(Image credit: Mdou Moctar)

Moctar and his band were touring the US when the coup happened. For a time, they were unable to return to their country and their families.

“I don’t support the coup,” Moctar underlines. “We want to be free, we need to smile, you understand?”

The band’s headline tour starts in Atlantic City at the Anchor Rock Club on June 5 and concludes at Union Transfer in Philadelphia on June 28. The 29-date tour takes in 17 states.

For more information and tickets, head to Mdou Moctar.

Mdou Moctar 2024 US tour dates

April 14: Indio, CA, Coachella Music and Arts Festival
April 21: Indio, CA, Coachella Music and Arts Festival
June 5: Atlantic City, NJ, Anchor Rock Club
June 6: Harrisburg, PA, The Abbey Bar at ABC
June 7: Richmond, VA, Cheers Brown’s Island
June 8: Saxapahaw, NC, Haw River Ballroom
June 9: Asheville, NC, The Orange Peel
June 11: Charleston, SC, Pour House
June 12: Birmingham, AL, Saturn
June 13: Atlanta, GA, Terminal West
June 14: Manchester, TN, Bonnaroo
June 15: Indianapolis, IN,  The Hi-Fi
June 18: Chicago, IL, Thalia Hall
June 19: Detroit, MI, Magic Bag
June 20: Cleveland, OH, Beachland Ballroom
June 21: Buffalo, NY, Asbury Hall
June 22: Greenfield, MA, Green River Music Festival
June 23: Boston, MA, Paradise Rock Club
June 26: Brooklyn, NY, Warsaw
June 27: Washington, DC, 9:30 Club
June 28: Philadelphia, PA, Union Transfer

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A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He’s also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.

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