Sk Presents: Bombino

After a 'brief' 25 hour delay in Morocco on his way from Niger, Bombino arrived in Woodstock, New York to record his new album at Applehead Studio with Dave Longstreth (Dirty Projectors). Applehead is a beautiful studio in a converted barn on farmland where goats, pigs, and other animals roam freely. The band stayed in a guest house a few steps away from the studio, and took turns making meals. Apart from a morning invasion of the guesthouse by a 700-pound pig, Applehead was the perfect atmosphere for Bombino and his group to create new music over the course of the 10 days they had there. Longstreth, meanwhile, proved to bea fantastic match for Bombino as this album’s producer. He has a deep respect for the Saharan music tradition and guided their sessions with a gentle but skilled hand.

Fans of Bombino and Tuareg music in general will notice a few remarkable innovations on this album. The first is the introduction of a new style Bombino is pioneering that he affectionally calls 'Tuareggae' - a sunny blend of Tuareg blues/rock with reggae one-drop and bounce. Another is the first-ever use of Western vocal harmonies in recorded Tuareg music, (due to Longstreth's influence) which give the songs new depth and color. Finally, the band behind him is tighter and more energetic than ever before. The result is Bombino's best, most well-rounded, and groundbreaking album to date: Azel.

The word "Azel" has three meanings in Bombino's native Tamasheq language - first, it is the name of a small desert town just a few kilometers from where he grew up, in Agadez, Niger. His wife's family is from Azel, and it is the site of the first and only Tuareg school in the country. Bombino has long held aspirations of developing a Tuareg community center and arts school in Agadez, so the town of Azel holds a special place in his heart. Second, the word azel means the roots or stems of a tree. This album is a reflection of Bombino's unique place in Tuareg music where he at once honors the traditional roots of the music while also taking it into brand new territory, hence the roots and the stems. Finally, the word azel is also slang in Tamasheq, loosely the equivalent of 'That's my jam!' in American English. The significance of that meaning should be instantly obvious to anyone who listens to this album.

Last Good Tooth

Last Good Tooth came together like many bands do… as teenagers, smoking grass and aping their favorite band of the moment in their parents' garages across the country. In the case of Last Good Tooth, that band was the Black Keys which is a bit shocking once you hear the first notes of Not Without Work and Rest trickle through your speakers. You see, the band is stunning when it comes to melodies, at carving out a line with a guitar that leads you straight into the first lyric of the songs while at the same time invoking some sort of strange Gordon Gano-ish Appalachian voodoo.

Well before the sessions for their debut were underway, word of their spirited live shows reached the offices of Team Love Records in New Paltz, NY. The band eventually dropped in on the sleepy Hudson Valley town and shook things up at the local dive bar, leading the room full of inebriated youth into a singalong of a Michael Hurley song. Later they played along side an abandoned thespian camp to a field of hedonists and swimming-hole experts. All of this left a strong impression on the folks at Team Love, and the plans for their debut album took root.
Recorded over the summer and fall of 2011, Not Without Work and Rest is a record for the young and the old, offering up tinges of mystery alongside a familiar warmth.

Last Good Tooth formed in Providence, RI and is currently based in New York State. The band is made up of Penn Sultan (Guitars), Kevin Sullivan (Bass), Arthur Kapp (Drums), and Alex Spoto (Fiddles) Not Without Work and Rest is out May 28th, 2013 on Team Love Records.

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