At the end of 2021, we asked you to vote on who you thought was the best Alternative Guitarist of the year. You chose Mdou Moctar, who, thanks to his inventive playing style is turning heads and proving that there’s plenty of life left in the electric guitar yet.
Now, in the most recent instalment of its Fender Sessions series, the guitar giant is showcasing Moctar and his band (guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, bassist Mikey Coltun, and drummer Souleymane Ibrahim).
During the video, which clocks in at just under 23 minutes long, Moctar and his band lead us through three songs, interspersed with an interview between the tunes.
The band kicks off with Afrique Victime, the title track from Moctar’s 2021 album, which sees Mdou performing on his trademark white Fender Strat, capo at the second fret. He coaxes some fantastic vintage-style tones from his rig, and demonstrates why some people refer to him as the Hendrix of the Sahara.
Ya Habibti sees left-handed Mdou switch to an American Acoustasonic Telecaster, once again with a capo at the second fret where he pulls off some effortless melodic fingerpicking, whilst singing.
For closer Chismiten, with its twisting 6/4 riff, Mdou is back on the Strat, complete with some beautifully wooly Hendrix lead tones during the solos.
Moctar - who fashioned his first guitar himself from a piece of wood and a bicycle brake cable - uses the interview part of the video to touch on the political nature of his latest album, as well as what music means to him.
“Afrique Victime is a political sound, because a lot of stuff is happening in Africa right now, but not anyone in Europe and the United States knows about it. People have to understand what is going on in Africa.”
"When I was young, one local artist from my hometown was my first concert. I saw him, and I saw the crowd was very happy. I just said, ‘I want to be like this person’. Music is my job, but the most important [thing] for me is to be free.”