Listen to “Saharan Hendrix” Mdou Moctar’s Mesmerizing "Ibitilan" Recording

Mdou Moctar Performs at The Black Cat in Washington, D.C., 2018
(Image credit: Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Mdou Moctar and his four-piece band – comprising rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, bassist/producer Mikey Coltun and drummer Souleymane Ibrahim – have been blowing audiences away with their unique brand of amped up Tuareg folk and desert blues.

This year’s sold-out shows in Europe and North America have elicited a slew of rave reviews, with Moctar’s head-turning electric guitar pyrotechnics drawing comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Eddie Van Halen.

Following the release of the Niger guitarist’s critically acclaimed 2021 album Afrique Victime (opens in new tab), Matador Records put out a digital Deluxe Edition (opens in new tab) with nine previously unreleased tracks in February.

And with fans eager for more, Moctar digitally released Vol. 1 (opens in new tab) of his two-part Niger EP series in August.

Mdou Moctar 'Afrique Victime' album artwork

Released in May 2021, Afrique Victime (opens in new tab) is Mdou Moctar's most recent album. A digital Deluxe Edition (opens in new tab)appeared in February 2022. (Image credit: Matador Records)

Featuring live and alternate versions of songs spanning the band’s discography and recorded in their native Niger, Niger EP Vol. 2 (opens in new tab) will be released digitally on October 25.

A physical release date for both EPs on limited vinyl has been announced for March 10, 2023.

A preview of Vol. 2 – a live recording of the track “Ibitilan” – is available to listen to now.

First appearing on 2019’s Blue Stage Session (opens in new tab), this version of “Ibitilan” captures the band’s famous live energy in its rawest form.

Mdou Moctar 'Niger EP Vol. 2'

(Image credit: Matador Records)

“Ibitilan is a love song,” explained Coltun. “Mdou sings about his love for a woman, comparing her to a beautiful valley with a stream running through it, how her skin is a yellow flower and her smile is like lightning.

“This particular recording was done in Agadez in 2017 at a wedding. Mdou and I had played three weddings a day for about a month and a half on that trip. It was like bootcamp. I loved it.

“Ibitilan is one of Mdou's oldest songs and is covered by pretty much every Tuareg guitarist. We've played versions of this song lasting over 20 minutes. It's definitely one of my favorites to play!”

Pre-order the limited-edition vinyl and pre-save the EPs here (opens in new tab).

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.