A band whose name has orbited the outer realms of my musical awareness Tinariwen,s fourth album has finally seen me part with some of my hard earned readies to see what the fuss is about. For more than 30 years, this raggedy band of rebel Touaregs from Mali have plied their trade gradually , inexorably surfacing into public consciousness . Are they worth the kerfuffle, the effort , the expenditure to find out what music is all about?
Well of course they are. The four stars give that away really . Fusing wiry but complex guitar patterns with errr wiry but complex vocal arrangements the music is resonantly personal and clearly of a place and a time. Without concessions to their burgeoning western audience ( at least to my ears ) Tinariwen have resisted the temptation to dilute their sound to accommodate , betting reasonably why change a winning formula.
Highlights of the albums thirteen song set include the harmonious hypnotic album opener "Imdiwan Afrik Tendam ", "Kel Tamashek " , a whirling dervish of a song with rhythms flying off a immeasurable tangents , the dense slow burn funk of "Tamult In" and the introduction of female harmonies on "Chabiba" is especially welcome .
You could also the admire the wiry circuitous riff of "Tenhert " or the way "Tenalle Chegret" is so delicately languorous without ever becoming tedious . Which occasionally the album is by the way. Closing instrumental "Ere Tasfata Adounia" feels tacked on and even a vocal track like "Assuf Ag Assuf " drags. The music does firmly stick to a formula but as it's one that has done so well for them that is understandable and for the most part it is intoxicating .
The accompanying DVD is worth a watch ,though may have a very limited repeat appeal. The music though is likely to enthral for many months, years to come. Like the desert which the Touregs roam -constantly shifting , evolving ..... spellbinding and beautiful but somehow always the same.