About a month ago I reviewed a DVD, Footsteps In Africa: A Nomadic Journey, which was purportedly a documentary about the Tuareg people of the Northern Sahara desert. However, Kiahkeya, the group responsible for producing the film, didn't just set up cameras and film their subjects like most documentarians, as they had an agenda to promote. The group of "artists" who were responsible for shooting the movie weren't there to report on the living conditions of the Tuareg, or their struggles to hold on to their traditional way of life in the face of encroaching civilization. No they were there to try and capture the "experience" of being a nomad, and to show how the nomadic way of life has something to teach all of us.
The movie was as annoying as it sounds, in that you didn't learn anything about the Tuareg, except a couple of simplistic aphorisms spoken by a couple of members of the older generation about water being power in the desert and the necessity of sharing. Since those responsible for the movie also believed that part of the "secret" of being a nomad was passed down from generation to generation in the music they decided to experience that as well. However instead of merely listening and recording any performances given by the Tuareg and others, they had to participate and instigate what they called "jams". While there was some footage taken at The Festival In The Dessert of Tuareg musicians and dancers, it was hard to tell what was staged for the film and what wasn't.
Now, with the release of the movie's soundtrack, Footsteps In Africa, available as a download through I-Tunes, it's made clear how much of the music in the movie was actually created by Tuareg, and how much was instigated by the movie makers. Aside from two songs by the Tuareg band Tinariwen and a recording of Habib Koite, a Malian musician who is neither a Tuareg nor a nomad, performing at the Festival In The Desert, the rest of the music on the soundtrack disc was either made by a member of movie's crew, Jamshied Sharifi, a new age musician and film score composer or the result of "jams" between members of the production company and various groups of Tuareg.
While the two cuts by Tinariwen, "Assoul" and "Alkhar Dessouf" are as good as usual, and can be heard on the band's own recordings, Koite's recording doesn't do him justice as the sound quality is not very good and his vocals distort. Unfortunately those are the highlights of the disc as the rest of the music is really not that interesting. Sharifi's incidental music for the film was much what you'd expect as it was merely filler. Even when listening to it on the soundtrack I couldn't remember hearing it in the film.