This enticing music – born in West Africa’s Sahara regions, exported to America and returned to its source – has been adopted by a growing number of artists, and coined “desert blues” by music journalists in the ‘90s. Amongst the style’s originators are the nomadic pastoralist North African Touareg people whose deep and storied history, rebellion and culture naturally lend themselves to the blues. Born to a Touareg mother and Italian father, guitarist, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist FARIS grew up in a multi-faceted musical environment while living in several countries.
On his debut album Mississippi To Sahara, FARIS takes early Delta songs, drags them through the mud and back through the sands of time. His is a unique twist on the desert rock phenomenon that brings early rural, sharecropping delta blues songs and repatriates them by translating lyrics into Tamasheq and accompanying himself in a hybrid style that combines the loping assouf guitar stylewith the bottleneck slide. Percussive scratches and knocks on his guitar are linked to hypnotic musical mantras, multi-lingual lyrics, and snatches of recognizable Western melodies. An endearing scribble of desert sounds remain while giving musical staples a new life, but the true magic of FARIS is his ability to give voice to the pain, suffering and hardship, as well as the indomitable spirit of his nomad culture.