-- Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant has long been interested in the music of Northern and West Africa, and in 2003 his fascination with the sounds of that region led him to participate in the Festival in the Desert event, which takes place in the country of Mali. Now, the first installment of an eight-part documentary titled Zirka, about the rock legend's experiences traveling to -- and performing at -- the event with members of his early 2000s group Strange Sensation, has premiered online.
The film is made up mostly of footage Plant shot himself using a handheld camera. The first part shows Robert, his son Logan and a couple of his band mates flying into the sand-swept country on a propeller plane and then making their way to the site of the festival. Along the way, Plant captures the sights and the local inhabitants, including a shrine with a variety of rifles collected in a pile in front of it and group of people riding camels. The footage is accompanied by a soundtrack featuring a variety of unidentified contemporary African music.
In a post on his official website, Plant describes the trip to the festival as "a journey of revelation…one of the most illuminating and humbling experiences of my life."
He adds that the excursion was "a journey that could only reinforce the power and the great gift of music across and between culture...sharing outside of language. A world where for awhile, at least borders, boundaries and barriers once again fell away...as it was long ago."
Each Monday for the next seven weeks, Plant will post another segment of Zirka on RobertPlant.com as well as at his official YouTube channel.
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