Tinariwen: Nomad Rock

Sep. 16, 2009
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Desert rebel rockers sounds like marketing spin, but for once, a publicist’s label fits. Tinariwen is a band from the hot, stony outback where Mali meets Algeria, a contested region in the southern Sahara. Somehow these musicians, born of the nomadic Toureg people but living now in cities, forged a sound that reconnects the droning syncopation of West Africa with the droning syncopation of primitive African-American blues, transposing those idioms into an almost rock sound with an army of electric guitars.

For their new album, Imidiwan: Companions (released by World Village), Tinariwen returned home, recording music in a remote village—the sound captures the shimmer of a heat mirage dancing along a low, endless horizon. Accompanying the CD is a DVD documentary on the making of the album, showing recording sessions in a mud walled house in a remote oasis or outdoors by a campfire. The region looks the way the music sounds—jagged, rocky, hot and dusty.

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