Toumast Ishumar

With the relative bounty of desert blues in the world music marketplace over the last several years, one is tempted to start looking for trends. Certainly there’s a marketing trend at work but it’s more problematic when comparing artists to artists, who may be geographically and culturally quite separate. In the case of Toumast, the sound is undeniably similar to last year’s desert stars Tinariwen. This album has a lighter, more Western pop-friendly sensibility. Those ancient-sounding blues riffs are all over the place but they resolve rather than just hang there in a trance, as they do in Tinariwen’s music. The lighter sheen to the production, which includes some mawkish loops, is the work of one Dan Levy. He’s also the bassist, drummer, engineer and mixer, yet his picture is nowhere to be found amidst all the images of rebels and guns on the album’s artwork. This kind of project breeds cynicism about its motives but there is good music at the heart of it. Tracks like "Innulamane” and "Ammilana” maintain the toughness that is the desert blues stance so admired by labels and fans but also deploy the manipulative tactics in the production more successfully. (Real World)