Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tinariwen: groove on them

Who's the world's hottest band at the moment? I have to say that it's Tinariwen, from Mali, in the Southern Sahara. Their style of music being affectionately known as "Berber Blues". Haunting, trance-inducing and will put a chill through your spine. Robert Plant described their music "Like dropping a bucket into a deep well".

Here's their backstory from the BBC. And a great YouTube video of them playing their biggest hit, "Amassakoul 'N' Tenere".

"Festival in The Desert", is a world music and Tuareg culture festival, to be held on 8-10 January 2009 in Essakane.  Here are some great photos from 2007's festival

[Bonus Link:] Tinariwen playing another great number, "Amidiwan" on YouTube.


Aman Iman: Water Is Life
Label: World Village
Released: February 27, 2007
Categories: World
Listen to this album

Comprised of ex-militant fighters who formed the band while serving time in Ghaddafi's rebel camps, Tinariwen are purveyors of a music called ishoumar, a trance-inducing style that's a blend of Western-influenced desert blues and traditional Tuareg song. African percussion and lots of handclaps provide an earthy rhythm that seems to sway and roll. Their eerie sound is nothing less than mesmerizing.

The world is getting smaller each and every day. One needs to look no further than the latest album from Malian musicians Tinariwen for proof of this indisputable truth. While serving time in Algerian military training camps, singer and leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib became mesmerized by the "new" sounds of Led Zeppelin and Santana. Inspired to pick up a guitar, he and his band (who were also militants) developed a kind of desert blues. Initially produced very cheaply in low-quality recording studios and distributed on old cassettes, they slowly began to gain an enthusiastic following, first regionally and later internationally. Drawing on the experiences of the fiercely nomadic Tuareg people, Tinariwen writes of unemployment, social oppression, rebellion and subjugation, first by French colonizers and later by the Malian government. Often sung in chorus, the singing is underpinned by a kind hollowed-out, bluesy electric guitar that, at times, seems almost droney. Beautifully played, this eerie sound is technically mesmerizing and leaves quite an impact on your emotions. African percussion and lots of handclaps provide an earthy rhythm that seems to sway and roll -- it's trance inducing. I don't know what it is about the Malian desert that seems to produce this stunning brand of African blues (see Ali Farka Toure) but I for one am hooked. And I am not alone. Tinariwen now claim Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn and, yes, Robert Plant as well as a very enthusiastic Carlos Santana among their devoted fans. It is a very small world indeed. [GA] (March 29, 2007)


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