Five Essential Mdou Moctar Tracks

Mdou Moctar press photo
Producer and musician Mikey Coltun (second from right) with Mdou Moctar (left). Shortly after hearing a phone recording of Moctar's music, Coltun began engineering, producing and playing on Moctar's records. | Jamie Kelter-Davis, courtesy of the artist

Currently on a tour of North America, Tuareg musician Mdou Moctar will visit the Bier Hall inside Intuition Ale Works on Tuesday, May 2 as part of our JME Presents Music Discovery Series. If you’re unfamiliar with Moctar (pronounced em-dew mock-tar)’s work, the singer, songwriter, actor and activist is best known as something of a guitar hero.

Moctar taught himself how to play guitar, making use of homemade instruments in his home country of Niger. Over the years he’s developed a singular style — a combination of ear-turning pyrotechnics that would make Eddie Van Halen quiver and more-acoustic-leaning, meditative compositions, all of which meld Moctar’s impressive fretwork with traditional melodies, field recordings and rhythms from his homeland on songs that are just as likely to ruminate on love as they are to tackle humanitarian and social-political issues. 

Musician and producer Mikey Coltun has had the pleasure, and no doubt formidable task, of reining in all that talent. Coltun plays bass in Moctar’s band and produces and engineers his records, including 2019’s Llana (the Creator), 2021’s Afrique Victime and Moctar’s latest, the 2022 EP Niger Vol. 2

During a recent video chat, Coltun shared five essential Mdou Moctar tracks. For longtime Moctar listeners, the interview shines a light on the creative process of Moctar and his collaborators. Meanwhile, Coltun’s list serves as a short but muscular primer for the uninitiated. Listen below.

Listen to Mikey Coltun share Five Essential Mdou Moctar Tracks above

Mikey Coltun’s Five Essential Mdou Moctar Tracks

1. “Chismeten”

2. “Kamane Tarhanin”

3. “Tala Tannam”

4. “Afrique Victime”

5. “Ya Habiti”

Mdou Moctar plays Intuition Ale Works on Tuesday, May 2 as part of our JME Presents music discovery series. Jacksonville indie-rock group Bad Madonna opens the show. Tickets are currently on sale.

In this article: