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"It’s the voice that floors you; a powerful, agile alto which dances around the modes with virtuosic invention and soars on the long notes ... Tzenni fizzes with heady electrified tinidit (lute) and urgent grooves from a rhythm section steeped in rock, funk and reggae ... Psychedelic roots music for the 21st century, Tzenni deserves to make Seymali a global star." ★★★★★
- The List (UK)
"Her style is distinct throughout, mixing as it does a scratchy, paranoid style of guitar with lazy but effective rhythms and Noura’s powerful evocative voice ... The style here is what draws you in and the scatty, freaked-out instrumentation soon becomes hypnotic."
- fRoots (UK)
Noura Mint Seymali comes from a long line of visionary musicians. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, her father, was a scholar-artist instrumental in opening Mauritanian music to the world; devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting music for the national anthem, and composing works popularized by his wife (Noura’s step-mother), the great Dimi Mint Abba. From her precocious beginnings as a teenaged backing vocalist with Dimi Mint Abba, Noura Mint Seymali now drives the legacy forward, re-calibrating Moorish music for our contemporary moment. Her band’s arrangements, rigor, and experimental spirit may be understood as a continuation of the tradition of Seymali, Dimi, her grandmother Mounina, and countless others.
Together with her husband, heroic guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who brings the force of yet another powerful branch of Moorish musical lineage, the band on this recording was conceived as a distillation of essential elements, the “azawan” and the backbeat. The ardine & tidinit (or guitar) together are the “azawan,” the leading ensemble of Moorish traditional music, while bass & drums, played here by Ousmane Touré and Matthew Tinari, fortify it with genre transcendent funk and a basic pop urgency. Tzenni re-visits several classics of the Moorish repertoire, but does so within a novel formation, conversant in the pop idiom, and with Noura Mint Seymali’s personal history interwoven throughout. The practice of aligning music to a given socio-historical and personal moment is an essential charge of the iggawen, or griot, and, we believe, of artists everywhere.
As we seek to convey another turn in the Mauritanian musical dialectic, Tzenni is ultimately an album about shape shifting, faith, and stability found through instability. It’s about taking the positive with the negative in a world that can only ever keep turning at break neck speed. We invite you to spin with us, to dance with us, through the music on this recording!
--Matthew Tinari: producer/drummer for Noura Mint Seymali
- World Music