|Tal National in the New York metro (source: WFMU)|
Tal National spent more than a decade crisscrossing Niger, usually on dirt pathways through the Sahara, playing epic five-hour sets, seven days a week, selling their CDs on street corners and roundabouts. In the process, they became Niger’s most popular band. In Niger, a former French colony, can be found Songhai, Fulani, Hausa, and Tuareg populations, all of whom are represented in Tal National’s members.
In Tal National’s music we hear the rolling 12/8 rhythms in the Hausa’s Fuji percussion, the pensive aridity of the Tuareg’s assouf and the exquisite griot guitar of Mali’s Songhai, all delivered with virtuoso precision and unrelenting energy. The band speaks French, but use the American term “very rock and roll” quite seriously, implying their awareness that the loud guitars and bewildering rhythmic complexity separate them from their West African peers.
On stage Tal National perform with six musicians, but because of their rigorous performance schedule there might be up to thirteen members at any one time. At shows, musicians regularly change places midway through songs (including the amazing sight of drummers swapping without missing a beat). On some nights the band might split up to play two gigs simultaneously.
In 2013 they recorded and released their first international album 'Kaani', after which they went on an international tour, playing a.o.in North-America and Western-Europe. Their 2nd international release 'Zoy Zoy' was recorded in Niamey, Niger’s capital, by Chicago-based producer/engineer Jamie Carter, using a remote recording rig in a dusty makeshift studio. In the tour around this release of this album, they did radio sessions for WFMU in New York and for KEXP in Seattle.
"The first thing that hits you when you listen to Tal National is the band’s tightness and fiery energy." --NPR (2013)
"The music keeps leaping ahead with one surprise after another: guitar parts that align and diverge and reconfigure, drumming that pounces on offbeats. The patterns are crisp, complex and tireless." --New York Times (2013)
Listen to a track from the KEXP Session
TAL NATIONAL 2015 - US Radio Sessions
Tal National - 2015.Apr.11 WFMU
playlist: 1.Kaani / 2.Saraounia / 3.Say Wata Gaya / 4.Ah-ah / 5.Zoy Zoy
broadcasted: 2015.Apr.11 Transpacific Sound Paradise
Tal National - 2015.May.10 KEXP
playlist: 1.Farila / 2.Zoy Zoy / 3.Liba
broadcasted: 2015.May.12 Wo' Pop (with Darek Mazzone)
Discographysources: talnational.com and talnational.bandcamp.com
before 2013: 2 unknown local releases (info from NPR story)
2013: Kaani (CD/LP/digital, Fat Cat Records #FATCD/LP.126)
2015: Zoy Zoy (CD/LP/digital, Fat Cat Records #FATCD/LP.137)
Watch and Listen
- 2013 KEXP Radio Session - youtube
- 2013 NPR Review - Rock Stars Of West Africa - npr
- 2013 WBEZ Radio Session - soundcloud
- 2015 KEXP Radio Session - youtube (with additional 4th track)