But God damn it Amanda, God damn it all…

Can it really be ten years ago since I saw Phosphorescent at Thekla?

In truth, it’s drifted from my memory with indecent haste. I remember being absolutely smitten with Here’s To Taking It Easy for a few months and then being vaguely disappointed with the follow-up.

And, well, that’s it.

Faded memories.

It seems a terrible shame, although possibly it doesn’t matter – I’ll wager Mathew Houk will never write a song as good as this again…

There’s another live version of this, filmed at Bonnaroo, in all its finger-wagging pomp, and a couple of solo versions which are also great, but I chose this one for its messy inarticulacy and its full goose-flesh delivery of my favourite line.

Imagine being able to write a song like this…

A ball floating in a bowl of water

Lockdown has finally broken me.

I know this, and not only because someone whose opinion I respect told me that I’ve become a glass half empty feller of recent (an idiom universally recognised in the middle class lexicon as meaning “miserable Old Git”). I know this chiefly because I’ve started making my own bread – an outward symptom of a greater malaise that doctors up and down the country have scratched their heads and put down to miserable old gits not being able to get out to the pub / gym / multiplex (I’ll leave you to guess which to delete as applicable…)

Actually, despite the “Quite Pleased with my First Effort” pictures every other hipster-ninny in the country has posted on his Instagram or Twitter account, it’s quite hard. Much harder than I imagined, and my first four efforts were… unsuccessful (shall we say).

Anyway, pummelling, kneading and stretching this morning’s latest instalment in the ongoing wholemeal melodrama, I have been propelled by beautiful insistent rhythms.

Les Filles de Illighadad

This was, I think, my first purchase from Bandcamp, and it’s refused to be denied, gradually worming its way into my whey-faced psyche…

I know.

It’s a ball floating in a bowl of water…

Les Filles de Illighadad are Tuareg musicians coming from the village of Illigharad in the Saharan region of Niger, and that’s one of only two facts I know about them (I’ll save the other). This is the same area that Tinariwen the only other similar musicians that I (and I imagine most people) had heard of. I’ve not really investigated Tinariwen very much, I’m sure they’re great, but by now Les Filles have won my heart.

It’s something about the sonorous tone of that ball in water, those harsh, proud vocals and the winding, insinuating tone of those guitars. I remember when Andy Kershaw started to include a lot of World Music in his show, he introduced a John Lee Hooker track as being “by that bloke that sounds like Ali Farka Touré”. These are country blues with a hypnotic, almost motoric repetitiveness.

Fatou Seidi Ghali, Les Filles’ guitarist and founder, claims to be the first female Tuareg guitarist in the world, picking up her brother’s guitar (the only male member of Les Filles) as a young girl (ladies and gentlemen, my other fact). Her finger-picking is gossamer-thin, the most delicate I can imagine and suggests a deftness of spirit that accompanied by that subterranean, marine rhythm draws you into moments of fidgety star-gazing.

The performance itself is a glamorous, graceful one, heavy in “you wouldn’t understand” tones that I’m happy to tip my hat to and enjoy, foolishly – complex music from proud hearts.