Top positive review
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Desert music with hypnotic rhythm and energy
on 2 February 2005
A Touareg band, their music is synonymous with the travel lightly principles of nomadic life. A camel might be able to carry a lute or a guitar, but it is going to extremes if you expect it to cart around an amplifier and a couple of speakers as well. And it can, of course, be a real pain trying to find an electricity socket in a sand dune or a tent.
The Touaregs have recently experienced a torrid time, being herded into camps while the old colonial power and the new independent countries of north Africa dispute the permeability of their borders. It might be a tradition that the Touareg roam the desert, but modern boundaries show sparse concern for tradition.
Tinariwen's music arose as a protest against their imprisonment. These are songs which follow a traditional style - the emphasis is in the use of the voice and the telling of a story, nurturing the words to entrance your audience. These are hardy people. They respect the power of the word and the strength of a song. Although the CD 'sleeve notes' do not provide a translation, the emotion comes across. Their rhythms are not as mechanistic or as frenetic as many Western bands - the beat you follow here is more cerebral, more akin to the pace of desert life.
The recording lacks the over-production associated with many Western recordings. This is sparse music, in keeping with its situation. The human voice is the easiest instrument to carry on a camel or horse. It is served up with assurance, here, the lead being echoed by a female or male chorus. There are no frills or pretensions. First and foremost, the music appeals to you as being honest. We have no hype here, no self-infatuation, merely human beings enjoying the pleasures of communicating with others.
The sounds are hypnotic - they carry you along and energise you with their simplicity and calm energy. This is refreshing music, music to cleanse your pallet of all the noise you hear on the radio. This is music to which you can relate, wherever you come from.