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Tag: Emmaar

Emmaar, Tinariwen’s Return to the Desert

[For the abridged version of this article, see Ryan’s Smashing Life]

The past few years have been difficult for the people of Mali. There was a devastating drought and armed conflicts which made the country unsettled for the long-suffering population. There were military coups, people were out of work and farmers were unable to plant their crops and raise livestock. Poor harvests continued into 2013, while road conditions and security issues hindered relief efforts. Aid groups warned of a serious food crisis with as many as three million people at risk. There continues to be political instability, even after French troops successfully ousted Islamic jihadists who had taken over Northern Mali and were trying to impose sharia law.

That isn’t your typical album review introduction, but then again, North African Tuareg band Tinariwen isn’t your typical band. They were founded in the Tuareg camps in Libya in the 1980s, where these nomadic people had relocated. They were looking for work and to rebuild their lives after fleeing their Saharan homeland. Truth is, the Tuareg have been continuously moved from places they tried to call home since the late 1960s. They traveled through Mali, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Mauritania and Niger. In all of these regions, they were considered refugees. They were (and continue to be) a people without a home. It is a complicated story.

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Tinariwen returning in 2014 with a new album (Emmaar) and tour!

©Marie Planeille

©Marie Planeille

How wonderful to see that the hypnotic, “old soul” guitar-driven magic of Tinariwen will once again grace our shores. They have a new album called Emmaar coming out February 11, with a North American tour planned for February and March. This new release will be the follow-up to their Grammy award-winning 2011 album Tassili, which was recorded in a tent in the Algerian desert. This time around, due to continuing political tensions and instability in their homeland of Mali, they recorded in a home studio located in a U.S. desert — Joshua Tree, California. The music features their trademark powerful electric guitar sound and traditional drumming, and was recorded in a natural live setting, with all the musicians performing in one room together. The recording features original members from the group’s beginnings in the 1980s (vocalists and guitarists Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, and Alhassane Ag Touhami) and newer members from the 1990s (multi-instrumentalist Eyadou Ag Leche, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, and percussionist Said Ag Ayad). They also invited some American artists to join them — Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Matt Sweeney from Chavez, Nashville fiddler Fats Kaplin, and poet Saul Williams. Good heavens. I can’t wait to hear this. For now, here’s a small taste — the official video for “Toumast Tincha.”

To help with the costs of touring, Tinariwen have a crowdsourcing campaign at Microcultures. Donate some funds and support their amazing music and their vision. In return, there’s all sorts of great items such as the upcoming CD, vinyl, autographs, show tickets and t-shirts, all the way up to an autographed guitar or an acoustic performance in your home! Give what you can. The France-based Microcultures is “an indie production company that offers preorders and subscriptions in order to fund creative projects, pays artists better, and deliver awesome rewards.”

I can’t recommend Tinariwen’s music and live show highly enough. I had the great honor of seeing these stellar musicians the last time they were at the Paradise Rock Club, and they were absolutely astonishing. The Boston show is again at the Paradise on Tuesday, March 25. See their official site for all the tour dates. To read about this group’s fascinating history, see the article I wrote about them last year.

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