on 18 September 2011
Once again the masters of the "call and respond"chant have come up trumps with a beautiful and enthralling album,more acoustic then previous albums this oozes class and distinction.
The promotion for this has been extensive,a free live album on download by a sunday newspaper,show the growing reputation of this band.
The music is less frantic than of late,and that is to its advantage,the more reflective lyrics seem to take in wider vistas,and the inclusion of other musicians bodes well.
IBRAHAM AG ALHARIB.....GUITARS,LEAD VOCALS
ALHASSANE AG TOURHANI.....BACKGROUND VOCALS,CLAPS
AYADOU AG LECHE.....GUITARS,BASS,PERCUSSION,CLAPS,BACKGOUND VOCALS
ELADA AG HAMID.....GUITARS,CLAPS,BACKGROUND VOCALS
SAID AG AYID.....PERCUSSIONS,CLAPS,BACKGROUND VOCALS
MOHAMMED AG TAHIDA.....CLAPS,BACKGROUND VOCALS
MUSTAPHA AG AHMED .....CLAPS,BACKGROUND VOCALS
ARROUNE AG ALHABIB.....GUITARS,BACKGROUND VOCALS
It is a worry that sometimes the term world music effectively shunts brilliant artists into a far to convenient "box" from which said artists struggle to escape. It is fortunate therefore that one of the best bands in the world today Tinariwen with their intoxicating mix of Touareg music and desert blues have gained such a massive foothold in modern music and can claim a huge worldwide audience. They are consumate musicians and in the two breakthrough albums which brought them to the attention of the music press namely Aman Iman - Water is Life and Imidiwan Companions they set out a new and revolutionary musical style which has drawn Western musicians like the proverbial moth to the flames not least Robert Plant and Santana. Here on their new album "Tassili" which is effectively Tinariwen "Unplugged" they have repeated this feat and attracted guest appearances from TV on the Radio's vocalist Tunde Adebimpe (who sings in English on "Tenere Taqqim Tossam") and Wilco guitar supremo Nels Cline fresh from his stint on Low's recent album.
That said Tinariwen have their own unique chops and their music continues to develop here in a more acoustic form with unamplified percussion and is none the worse for it although slightly less exuberant than previous albums. They also "mix it up" successfully at various points with the New Orleans based Dirty Dozen Brass Band not least on a key standout track "Ya Messinagh." Other highlights include the haunting vocals of Ibrahim Ag Alhabib on "Tameyawt" a gently spun desert lament, the funky Cline guitar lines on the great opener "Imidiwan Ma Tennam" and the deep blues of "Aden Osamnat".
Personally this reviewer does prefer the greater colour and verve of their electric work but Tinariwen are not standing still which is to be welcomed. "Tassili" then sees a band who continue to develop musically at every stage and have produced here one of their more intimate and often plaintive recordings which is sure to add further kudos to their already sparkling CV and become a treasured recording.
on 8 September 2011
Given the unexpected rise of Tuareg desert blues into the Western rock sensibility, and the number of imitators whose own versions of the sound are knocking on the door of the mainstream (Tartit, Tamikrest, Terakaft, to name but three), Tinariwen's most predictable next move would have been to cash in on that unprecedented popularity by delivering a third helping of their two breakthrough albums. That they have not done so serves as a reassurance that there is more to Tinariwen than crossover success might have tempted them into.
Tassili flirts with the almost obligatory Western guest musicians in a Bringing-It-All-Back-Home style of taking the blues back to their putative origins. Wilco's Nels Cline lends unobtrusive guitar parts to 'Imidiwan Ma Tenam', but there are less than successful English vocals on 'Tenere Taqhim Tossam' from TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, which sound intrusive and alien. The addition of horns from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band on 'Ya Messinagh' is also of dubious benefit, but these reservations only serve to illustrate how well Tinariwen's sound stands up on its own merits without any Westernised interference.
In the main, this album returns Tinariwen to its desert roots; campfire songs about love and life, without the now familiar hypnotic sawing electric guitar grooves. While this may appear to be a sharp left turn, it is in fact the most obvious next step for the band, and the quality of the unplugged songs shows just what a class act they are. The grooves are still there, just as infectious, but subtler and gentler. Unlike others, Tinariwen have opted to remain close to their roots, and although the rise of Al Qaeda in their home villages has prompted a move into Algeria for the recording of Tassili, the conflict at the heart of that move is not reflected in the softer sounds of the music within. So many 'World Music' acts become seduced by the power of Western approbation that the reasons for their original appeal becomes smothered by the influence of American and European producers with a desire to demonstrate their ethnic credibility through a heavy-handed crossover agenda. Tinariwen have resisted that temptation so far; one suspects that they will continue to do so. Let's hope they do, for much of Tassili is as close as it gets to some of the best music around, in anyone's world.
... Tinariwen have found a way to build on what's gone before and produce something utterly brilliant.
With this album they have managed something which many bands mishandle - how to develop and add one or two new sounds without becoming 'poppy' or 'selling out' their sound.
This record in some senses goes back to the stripped down sound of 'Radio Tisdas' but takes it further in having many more acoustic instruments.
The female backing singers are absent from this record, though that's appropriate for this most laid-back of offerings, which has superb tunes and arrangements from start to finish.
I could go on (and on...) but the other reviewers here have done a great job, just wanted to add another five stars and say, and not for the first time in the case of this band: you MUST buy this record...