Sunken Treasure: Mammane Sani Abdoulaye’s ‘La Musique Électronique du Niger’

It was recorded in a studio at Niger National Radio in two takes. As few as 100 cassettes were made. Its survival is almost as miraculous as its provenance

 

MAMMANESANI_WEBThe romantic notion of the musician making music in splendid isolation purely for their own volition is a concept that has been rendered almost obsolete in the modern world.

The immense evolution in the tools of the trade has changed all of this. The means of making music has found its way into our pockets in the shape of smartphones for one thing. Generating sound is now just a click away.

Things were a lot different in Niamey in 1978. The capital of Niger is where Mammane Sani Abdoulaye called home. A deep love for music was inculcated by his family. His father’s occupation as a librarian at the American Cultural Centre was a blessing. Information on the world at large was at his fingertips and he was fortunate enough to have the sound of elsewhere reaching his curious ears. The seeds of his artistry were sown early.

Through his position as a functionary with Unesco, he got to spread his wings and visit Japan and Europe. Travel broadened his musical horizons further and on one such trip he purchased the second-hand electronic organ that would enable him to realise his lucid electric dreams back home.

There were no precedents for the type of compositions he conjured on this machine. His reference points were the folkloric songs and rhythms of the Wodaabe and Tuareg tribes but his solitary pursuit of a modern twist on these traditions lead him into entirely uncharted territory. His singular voyage of discovery was not in vain.

There’s magic in the languid way the tunes unfurl like desert flowers. Their surface simplicity is underpinned by a beautifully melodic undertow that draws you in unbidden. It’s deeply contemplative music. The pensive mood never wavers. The listener is a passenger on a journey to previously hidden realms.

It was recorded in a studio at Niger National Radio in two takes. As few as 100 cassettes were made. Its survival is almost as miraculous as its provenance. By sheer chance this music was discovered and released anew by the Sahel Sounds label in 2013.

I believe in miracles.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.