Les Filles de Illighadad (“daughters of Illighadad”) was founded in Illighadad, Niger in 2016 by solo guitarist Fatou Seidi Ghali and renowned vocalist Alamnou Akrouni. In 2017, they were joined by Amaria Hamadalher, a fixture on the Agadez guitar scene, and Abdoulaye Madassane, rhythm guitarist and a son ofIllighadad. Les Filles de Illighadad’ s music draws from two distinct styles of regional sound, ancient village choral chants and desert guitar. The result is a groundbreaking new direction for Tuareg folk music and a sound that resonates far outside of their village. In the past years, the band has toured nonstop, bringing their highly specific sound to distant corners of the globe.
At the heart of Les Filles de Illighadad’ s music is the percussion and poetry of tende–a term used for both the instrument and the type of music – whereby a mortar and pestle are transformed into a drum, and women join together in a circle, in a chorus of singing, chanting, and clapping. Sometimes it’s music for celebration, sometimes it’s music to heal the sick, sometimes it’s poetry of love. But it’s always music of people, where the line between performer and spectator breaks down. To be a witness is to be a participant, to listen is to join in the collective clapping and singing.
Today, Tuareg avant-rock group Les Filles de Illighadad have announced their highly anticipated new album, At Pioneer Works, out May 26th on Sahel Sounds. Ahead of its release, the band presents lead single/video “Subarjo.” Their third full-length, At Pioneer Works , was recorded over two sold in Brooklyn, NY in Fall 2019 at the tail-end of two years of nonstop touring in support of the band’s 2017 album Eghass Malan. Writing about the shows for The New Yorker , music critic Amanda Petrusich writes: “The crowd in Brooklyn was entranced, nearly reverent. Les Filles’ music is mesmeric, almost prayer-like, which can leave an audience agog… whatever rhythm does to a human body—it was happening.”