Bombino's 'Ouhlin' Rides a Fuzzy Groove Across Borders & Divisions: Exclusive Premiere


Nigerien guitarist Bombino (real name: Omar Moctar) may be singing in the indigenous language Tamasheq, but the vibe “Ouhlin” can be immediately grasped by any listener. The most outward-looking cut on his fuzzy, heat-warped new album Deran (out 5/18 on Partisan Records), “Ouhlin” unspools a grimy, Link Wray-sounding guitar line for miles.

Says Bombino, “'Oulhin' is a song about union, about how we waste so much energy in conflict. It is a call to come together as one people, regardless conflicts the past. Given the state the world today, I think it carries an important message.” And translated from Tamasheq, the lyrics read from the gut like an ancient lamentation: “My heart is burning/ Burning for my brothers/ Who do not love each other.” 

Bombino’s got an impressive Rolodex Western musicians he counts as his fans and collaborators — most interestingly, Mick and Keith. And just as those two molded American music to their own ends as teenagers in a way that shifted rock forever, Bombino would seem to be drawing from the deepest American blues in this nifty, vaguely droning piece.

But there’s no pilfering involved in doing a little desert blues: “Ouhlin” is pure and bare-bones in the face the unbelievable complexities  our era, a groove you can ride to the end the earth. You can listen below: