Tinariwen – Emmaar (2014) [Deluxe Edition]
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 61:52 minutes | 1,35 GB | Genre: World
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front cover | © Wedge
The desert is a place of hardship and subtle beauty, a stark world that reveals its secrets slowly and carefully. For the renowned Saharan band Tinariwen, the desert is their home, their hypnotic and electrifying guitar rock reflecting the complex realities of their homebase in North West Africa. The band is set to release their new album Emmaar on February 11th. Emmaar is the follow up to the group’s 2011 album Tassili, recorded in the Algerian desert with an esteemed cadre of musicians including Wilco’s Nels Cline and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone – the album won a Grammy for Best World Music.
Tinariwen’s identity as a band is tightly bound up in the Sahara. They are named for the vast empty spaces traversed by the Kel Tamashek (aka Tuareg), traditional nomads for whom modern borders have been problematic. The band formed in Libya while in exile from Mali, and has always made music that passionately evokes its home; their last album was recorded in the open air of that desert. Such an arrangement was not possible this time. The political situation in Mali made returning to the northern desert untenable, and though they’ve been driven from power in most places, the specter of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreban organization ideologically opposed to musicstill looms across a large swath of the Sahara.
Challenging circumstances are nothing new to the Kel Tamashek (Tuareg) band Tinariwen. After all, most of their members had been Libyan military-trained rebel fighters engaged in active revolt against the Malian government before the Tamanrasset Accords in 1991. Beginning in 2012, real danger is ever present in northern Mali — due to the incursion of Islamist militias — for the Tuareg people and to musicians in particular. So much so, many, including Tinariwen, have fled the country. One of their members, Abdallah Ag Lamida, was even kidnapped, though he has since been released. Tinariwen was forced to exchange one desert — the Sahara — for another in Joshua Tree National Park in the United States in order to record Emmaar (without Ag Lamida, who was freed after recording began). Once more produced by Patrick Votan, the sound here retains its “desert blues” heart but is also more expansive — there’s no need for alarm, really. The traditional interlocking guitar interplay involves more drones as lead lines snake underneath them, and there is more reverb in this mix. All of the material was written by leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib or his bandmembers. Exile, anger, and displacement populate the songs on Emmaar. Multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin adds his spiraling fiddle to “Imdiwanin Ahi Tifhamamone” and pedal steel to the militant opener “Toumast Tincha” (that also features guitar from Josh Klinghoffer and a spoken intro by Saul Williams), and the atmospheric dirge “Sendad Eghlalan.” Percussionist Amar Chaoui helps out on the stinging “Chaghaybou” and five other tracks, adding a sense of more dynamic urgency to balance the more drone-centric approach. “Emajer,” with guest guitarist Matt Sweeney, is a different tack for Tinariwen. Its vibe is more American Southwest (which isn’t so strange since this is a nomadic band after all). But Ag Alhabib’s lyric and melody are pure African folk song, reflecting loss and longing, as the rolling percussion, voices, and guitars wind around one in multiple melodies underscoring the emotion. The interwoven acoustic guitars on closer “Aghregh Medin (Hassan’s Song)” offer a staggered minor-key blues. They highlight the disillusionment in the lyric “… I no longer believe in unity/I will only believe in it again if/Those opinions serve a common ideal/That of the people from which they emanate.” The different textures and timbres at work on Emmaar reveal Tinariwen’s evolution; one derived from the need to grow musically, as well as respond to adversity with creativity.
01 – Toumast Tincha
02 – Chaghaybou
03 – Arhegh Danagh
04 – Timadrit In Sahara
05 – Imidiwan Ahi Sigdim
06 – Tahalamot
07 – Sendad Eghlalan
08 – Imdiwanin ahi Tifhamam
09 – Koud Edhaz Emin
10 – Emajer
11 – Aghregh Medin (Hassan’s Song)
12 – Adounia Ti Chidjret
13 – Islegh Taghram Tifhamam
14 – Tin Ihlan
Produced by Patrick Votan.