Nigerien guitarist Bombino (real name: Omar Moctar) may be singing in the indigenous language of Tamasheq, but the vibe of “Oulhlin” can be immediately grasped by any listener. The most outward-looking cut on his fuzzy, heat-warped new album Deran (out 5/18 on Partisan Records), “Oulhlin” unspools a grimy, Link Wray-sounding guitar line for miles.
Says Bombino, “‘Oulhin’ is a song about union, about how we waste so much energy in conflict. It is a call to come together as one people, regardless of conflicts of the past. Given the state of the world today, I think it carries an important message.” And translated from Tamasheq, the lyrics read from the gut like an ancient lamentation: “My heart is burning/ Burning for my brothers/ Who do not love each other.”
Bombino’s got an impressive Rolodex of Western musicians he counts as his fans and collaborators — most interestingly, Mick and Keith. And just as those two molded American music to their own ends as teenagers in a way that shifted rock forever, Bombino would seem to be drawing from the deepest American blues in this nifty, vaguely droning piece.
But there’s no pilfering involved in doing a little desert blues: “Oulhlin” is pure and bare-bones in the face of the unbelievable complexities of our era, a groove you can ride to the end of the earth. You can listen below: