Mdou Moctar
with Guerilla Toss

Mdou Moctar

Performers:
Mdou Moctar
Guerilla Toss
The BishopBloomingtonIN
Ages 18+
Doors - 8:30pm Show - 9:30pm

Bio:

In the crowded scene of Tuareg guitarists, Mdou Moctar stands apart from his peers. Playing in the repertoire of desert guitar popularized by groups like Tinariwen and Bombino, Mdou is pushing the boundaries of the genre with a unique personal sound. With versatile compositions and genre defying albums, Mdou’s music has been an underground success with an international following, set on redefining the sound of the desert.

Mdou Moctar hails from a small village in the Azawagh desert of Niger, a remote region steeped in religious tradition. As a child, he taught himself to play the a homemade guitars, cobbled together out of planks of wood. It was years later before he found a “real” guitar, teaching himself in secret. In an area where guitar music was all but prohibited, he quickly rose to the status of local celebrity amongst the village youth.

In 2008 he traveled to Nigeria to record his first album Anar. A psychedelic reworking of the Tuareg sound, the electronic tracks featured innovative pitch bending synths, drum machines, and autotune. In 2010, he teamed up with the label and collective Sahel Sounds, releasing his first international album, Afelan. In 2015, he co-wrote and starred in the first ever Tuareg language film, Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It, a Saharan remake of Prince’s Purple Rain. In 2017, he again shifted gears to another sound with Sousoume Tamachek, a mellow blissed out recording evoking the calm desert soundscape, tackling religion, spirituality, and matters of the heart.

In the past years, Tuareg rock music has gotten faster. There is a preference for this new style, both in the raucous weddings of Agadez and in Berlin rock clubs. The wavering guitar solos, rapid fire drums and heavy distortion has become characteristic of the contemporary sound. Mdou takes on this challenge, but with an ear towards tradition. Rooted in traditional, with borrowed polyrhythms of traditional « takamba » and lyrics sung in the style of old nomadic poets, his guitar playing is wild and unrelenting, equal parts nomadic bard and Eddie Van Halen. Mdou Moctar and his band have toured Europe and North America, playing sold out shows from small DIY rock clubs in Portland to New York City’s Lincoln Center. His music has been featured in the BBC, The Guardian, Pitchfork, New Yorker, L.A. Weekly, NPR, Rolling Stone, Les Inrocks, and his film continues to be screened at film festivals around the world. From underground star of Niger to international film star, Mdou Moctar has undoubtedly one of the quickest rises to success.

Analog synthesizers give tangible life to the works of Guerilla Toss. Whether it be the sound of a rocket ship, a kitten-with-a-wah, distorted dolphins, or a clavichord made out of honey-baked ham, the band consistently finds new ways to bring together the many ideas that combine to shape each new batch of art-rock puzzle pieces.

Twisted Crystal, Guerilla Toss’ new LP, feels more personal than ever for the band. Angular yet irresistibly catchy, this collection of pop songs pulls influence from powerful groups like The Slits, ESG, Gina X, and early Madonna, with sing-speak vocals from Kassie Carlson nodding to legendary artists like Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux – combining this all into a twisted, crystalline concoction.

Oracles and enigmatic egos are common lyrical themes, but charismatic instrumentality springs the listener back to extraterrestrial comfort. Old favorite sounds ring true from the trusty Sequential Circuits Six Track Synthesizer and Clavia Drum Machine. New, more refined sounds are molded and polished by drummer/producer Peter Negroponte, whose passion for perfection and creation goes far beyond an all-consuming Tetris effect. Peter has truly excelled on this new recording, creating a complex networks of beats and sound that become easily intertwined with the rhythmic fabric of life.

Raised in a devoutly religious family, vocalist Kassie Carlson started performing at the age of five. She often participated in large pastoral choral performances, as well as her family’s four-part harmony gospel quartet, making her no stranger to the stage. Growing up under the fear of God leaves a distinct footprint on your perception. An omnipresent male dictates not only your present waking life but also the rest of your eternity. Discovering a rock band was more than self-expression for Kassie, it was a manifestation of a self-healing temple, a personal pipeline for power. What better way to part the waters of toxic sludge than a matriarchal shout?

Arian Shafiee, Guerilla Toss’ resident textural-guitar guru, is inspired by aspects of non-Western tuning and extended techniques. He designs moments of dense, glistening, pitch-shifted harmony and measured strumming that link classical impressionism to no-wave and early minimal music. His recent solo work truly comes through on this new record, as he tethers fantastical surreality to noise rock to deconstructed Middle Eastern pop music.

Keyboardist Sam Lisabeth paws the keys with distinct virtuosity and expressive sass. A new member, Stephen Cooper (of the band Cloud Becomes Your Hand), binds the group with an urgent, disciplined, and melodic style. The hypnotic, ostinato-like basslines and up front rhythm tracks guide and grip each song like gravity, keeping the listener from swirling off into the cosmos.

In albums past, Kassie’s performances resembled more of a manic, possessed high priestess; humming at the gates of hell, hacking telepathy and tugging the strings of every audience member. Twisted Crystal goes beyond this familiar darkness, leading us into a rhythmically calming charm with deep wisdom, serenity, and understanding. What is a twisted crystal? And who told you it would heal?

At times the listener wanders through mazes of dizzying, alternately pulsing time signatures, but the roads always bounce, meet and magically snap back together. That meditative groove, both live and in the studio, has become signature for Guerilla Toss, drawing deep influence from 70s krautrock and experimental rock music like Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Neu!, Cluster, Todd Rundgren, and La Dusseldorf.

A constantly evolving, living breathing entity, the band now presents the album Twisted Crystal. Enjoy the same surrealistic, kinetic healing energy of live Guerilla Toss, today in your own home.

“Magic is Easy. Hypnotize yourself well.”

Venue Information:
The Bishop
123 S Walnut
Bloomington, IN, 47404