Tal National Performs At Cafe Nine

Special to The Courant

Tal National is from Niger in north Central Africa. The country’s location gives it cultural ties to both North and West Africa. Fans of desert blues might think they know what to expect from having heard bands like Tinariwen and Bombino, but Tal National brings a different mix to its Saharan sound. It’s desert rock, but it’s not drawn solely from the Tuareg tradition. Tal National is essentially an art-rock band playing African music, drawing on the diverse traditions of the many ethnic groups in Niger. The band can sound as much like King Crimson as it does Ali Farka Toure.

Unlike many African bands that find greater success abroad, Tal National is hugely popular in its home country. The band just released “Tantabara,” its third record, earlier this month. The guitar-playing is astounding, frenetic and energetic. The threads of musical lines create a thick mesh, with dazzling patterns and impressive heft. And then there’s the drumming, which is next-level awesome, allowing the music to surge and ebb, using marching rhythms that require little more than a hi-hat or a snare drum to be fully realized.

Cafe Nine routinely has shows that have the potential to be amazing because of the combination of the musical caliber and the compressed energy inside the small venue. This is one of those shows.

Tal National performs at Cafe Nine, 250 State St., New Haven, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 to $15. 203-789-8281 or cafenine.com.

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