Shot on three continents, this film provides an inside look at Christopher Kirkley’s project “Sahel Sounds” - a blog, record label and platform to explore arts and music of the Sahel region through non-traditional ethnographic fieldwork.
We follow Chris from Portland to Niger, where he meets some of his long term collaborators as well as new artists. On a road trip from the capital to Agadez, the gateway to the Saharan desert, we witness stunning music performances along the way and after figuring out ridiculous Visa-workarounds, Mdou Moctar and his band set out on their very first European tour to excite audiences, while a hairdresser from Tahoua dreams of America, a place where cellphone recordings are pressed onto high-fidelity vinyl discs for the audience of the future.
Not a strict portrait, nor a straight music documentary, a story of Sahel Sounds celebrates the wide range of musical performances of current artists from Niger, while leaving room to reflect on today’s role of ethnomusicology. Still held back by asymmetrical power differentials, but now backed up by an expanding globalism and new possibilities to claim their independence, artists try to reach for success - on stages and on cellphones.