Tucano Music #1. Fire and ice: Bombino’s Tuareg guitar vs. Röyksopp’s Arctic electronica
Have we ever told you that in Tucano we are so passionate that we just can’t keep still? Yes, because after technology and design (our bread and butter), sport and photography, now it’s time to talk about music. Another one of our passions.
This is the first in the series for a feature dedicated to sounds from all around the world which we are particularly fond of and which we listen to every day at Tucano Lab. But we won’t tell you about the latest hits which you are sure to already know. Instead, each time we will introduce you to two musical “gems” which are apparently poles apart – not just musically, but also geographically – but which are nevertheless linked by the peculiarity of their sound and artistic journey.
Today we are going to mix the sun-drenched atmosphere of the Sahara, expressed by the warm guitar of Bombino, with the synthetic and heterogeneous electronica of Norway’s Röyksopp.
Bombino, music of rebellion and belonging
Omara “Bombino” Moctar was born in 1980 into a Tuareg community in the Sahara desert located around 80 km from Agadez in Niger. At just ten years of age he was forced to flee and take refuge with his family in nearby Algeria due to a Tuareg uprising, and there he met guitarist Haja Bebe who inserted him into his band and nicknamed him Bombino – a corruption of the Italian “bambino” (child), owing to his age.
Haja Bebe who inserted him into his band and nicknamed him Bombino – derived from the Italian word “bambino” (child), owing to his age.
Omara learned quickly, even though he had to teach himself, mastering Tuareg rhythms as well as opening up to and incorporating a wider range of influences, including artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler.
Image via Jaime Oriz / Flickr
In 1997 he returned to Agadez and formed his own band, but the political situation was still far from stable: Tuareg guitarists became a symbol of rebellion and so in 2007 the central government, intent on repressing any resistance, banned the guitar completely. Two musicians from Bombino’s band were even executed, and so he went into exile again, this time to Burkina Faso. Three years later peace finally returned, and Bombino was able to return to his native land; his happiness to be back is evident from the album entitled Agadez.
A guitar which expresses the strength of his origins: full of warm wind and freedom. An album which leaves room for tradition, but is also the fruit of a spontaneous opening up to the world. The Tuareg lyrics mix with virtuosity borrowed from international blues and folk.
The documentary Agadez, the Music and the Rebellion made by film-maker Ron Wyman about Bombino and the situation of Niger’s Tuareg musicians brought his name to the attention of America.
The Agadez guitarist managed to arouse the curiosity of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, among others. And thus a new, interesting collaboration was born, resulting in Bombino’s most recent album, Nomad: it is a more refined and mature disc with a full sound which even better highlights the mixture of desert prayers with the rich and atmospheric blues of the southern US.
Nomad is genuine world music: an artist with strong roots elegantly mixing different and varied elements, even rock, without this meaning they have to make compromises.
If you are interested, Bombino is on tour right now.
Synthetic sounds of the Arctic: Röyksopp, the kings of Nordic electro-pop
And now for very different climes. We are leaving the baking sun of the Sahara, putting on our heavy jackets and jumping on a snow mobile to Tromsø, Norway. Latitude: 69 degrees north, above the Arctic circle.
This city of wooden houses, fishing boats and little more than 60,000 inhabitants has seen the development of one of the liveliest music scenes in recent years, which has even made it on the international stage.
One of the acts most worthy of recognition is undoubtedly Röyksopp, the electro-pop duo consisting of Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland. The pair have known each other and been making music together since they were in middle school in the early 1990’s.
Image via Wlodi / Flickr
They immediately began experimenting with drum machines and samplers, but then took different paths during their teenage years before meeting back up again in 1998, this time in Bergen, another Norwegian “musical capital” (the Bergen Wave has produced acts such as Kings of Convenience, Frost and Those Norwegians). Their début album was 2001′s Melody AM, which immediately went platinum to make them household names within Norway, and gained them notice outside of the country as well.
With Melody AM, Röyksopp mix transversal sounds to create Arctic atmospheres and hyperborean frescoes. They add sinuous dance rhythms and lounge atmosphere to the rough and sometimes aseptic notes of digital electronica, tipping their hats at pop without ever risking banality.
The Norwegian duo state their influences as German band Kraftwerk and ambient pioneer Brian Eno. But it is not by chance that they also appreciate the arrangements of Giorgio Moroder or the simple harmonies of early Vangelis.
Röyksopp have also been pioneers in terms of their music videos, using 3D visuals and infographics before many better-known names. One of the best examples is the 2001 video Remind Me taken from Melody AM.
Four years later, their second album The Understanding was released, offering an even more variegated sound and what we, in our modest opinion, consider to be their best track to date: What Else Is There?
Over the years, Svein and Torbjørn have enriched their sound by taking on influences from French musicians such as Erik Satie, or the composers of film scores such as Francis Lai. In this sense, Röyksopp say they prefer the old keyboards of the 1970’s as they make it easier to manipulate sounds and make new ones, providing a warmer feeling compared to contemporary electronica.
This is particularly true for some pieces from their third album Junior, like the opening track Happy Up Here:
In September of last year, the duo announced their last (they say) album, with the enigmatic title: The Inevitable End. The atmosphere is darker, some tracks are more rarefied and melancholy as if to point out that this really (?) is their last chapter. One of the best examples: Thank You
… Although for us, the real stand-out track from their last album is the single Monument.
In short, the Norwegian duo gave life to a sort of post-modern soundtrack: the breezy electronica of the north mixing with trip-hop beats and borrowed melodies, inside a musical pastiche which speaks to a wide-ranging audience, filling dance floors on five continents.
The taste of quality sound.
And what will you choose? The warmth of Bombino’s Tuareg guitar, or the acrobatics of Röyksopp’s Nordic electro-pop?
In both cases, our opinion is that to fully enjoy the sounds of every part of the world the most important thing is to respect their quality even when listening in very different situations: whether you are out training for a marathon or stretched over the sofa.
That’s what we are thinking about when we develop products like the BT Lace Bluetooth earphones.
Ideal for sport and many other activities besides, BT Lace earphones are wireless and give you greater freedom of movement, and thanks to the next-generation Bluetooth connection they reduce battery consumption to a minimum.
What’s more, BT Lace includes 3 different sized in-ear inserts to provide the perfect ergonomics and the perfect all-round musical experience for you.
The integrated controls also allow you to conveniently skip tracks and answer calls with a single click.
OK, now it’s time to turn up the volume.