Nigerién composer Hama presents a groundbreaking album of traditional electronic desert folk songs, hovering somewhere between early 90s techno and synthwave. Nomadic herding ballads, ancient caravan songs, and ceremonial wedding chants are all re-imagined into pieces seemingly lifted from a Saharan 1980s sci-fi soundtrack or score to a Tuareg video game. With a deep love and respect, Hama effortlessly takes back and re-appropriates fourth-world ethnoambient music.
One of only a handful of electronic musicians in West Africa, Hama a.k.a. Hama Techno follows in the footsteps of avant-garde electronic pioneers like Mamman Sani Abdoulaye, Francis Bebey, and Luka Productions. His debut release was a huge success on the underground mp3 networks of West Africa and was featured in The Wire, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone. Hama continues with his signature digital folk with an expansion into computer-based compositions. Painstaking crafted on the spotty electric grid in Niamey with earbuds and a hacked copy of FruityLoops, Houmeissa is the result of remarkable passion. Inspired by diverse sounds spanning Tuareg guitar to second-wave Detroit Techno, Saharan folk songs are transformed into atemporal works that defy categorization.
Hama builds patterns of varied time signatures and distinct polyrhythms, deconstructing and rebuilding ancient traditions on drag and drop virtual keyboards. Airy sweeping pads evoke the open desert while rumbling dark undertones warn of a coming dust storm. Instrumentals layer looping pentatonic melodies into a blissed-out trance, while soft synths and fake electric guitars cry out a call and response. The effect is charmingly unexpected, as the plastic sounds of early PC music are imbued with a new life. A singularly unique production, Hama's Houmeissa stands to be a future classic and an embodiment of the digital Sahara to come.