Tuareg guitarist gets psychedelic

Niger's Mdou Moctar is a Tuareg guitarist perhaps best-known for starring in “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai,” a Tuareg take on Prince's “Purple Rain” that translates to “Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red in It” (there's no word for “purple” in the Tuareg language, Tamajeq).

Moctar, though, is not merely a guitarist. He's a restlessly creative musician and songwriter whose debut album was driven by synthesizer and electronic drums. Moctar then made another record, Afelan, from field recordings of live performances, and then released Sousoume Tamachek, a solo folk album of hypnotic meditations.

Moctar's latest, Ilana: The Creator, is a mind-bending, psychedelic take on Saharan desert blues recorded in Detroit with engineer Chris Koltay. “Tarhatazed” begins with a Black Sabbath vibe, and then gets into some serious finger-tapping, a technique Moctar learned by watching Van Halen videos on YouTube. Throughout, the songwriter calls attention to the injustices happening in his homeland and pleads for help from a being not of this earth. “Creator, creator, you must come to the rescue to all the women who are suffering in the desert,” he sings on the title track, then grounds his cries for assistance in earthly, political realities: “Our inherited right is taken by the French, occupying the valley of our ancestors.” (Don't miss it)