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Imidiwan by Tinariwen

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Reviewed on 2nd July 2009.



By Tinariwen

As a fan of all things musical I have always found Tinariwen an interesting musical vessel; a group of nomadic Touareg tribe members swapping guns for guitars to spread messages through music. This concept, noble as it is, really brings out the sound of new Africa shying away from the typical Malian sound that was originally brought to us by the likes of Amadou and Miriam and Salif Keita. The sound encompasses the group's trademark hammer-on guitar playing and astounding ulations by the female members of the group.

I reviewed Tinariwen's tour with Tunng earlier this year and have ever since been hooked in by the band who are becoming more than just another band making music from the desert. Even though, admittedly, I do not understand the words as I am not well versed in the language used, I could still feel the intents of each song, whether a powerful feeling or sharing an emotive happiness.

This album seems to stir up a real wanderlust that overtakes any possible thoughts of exoticism, respecting the value of the music not only on an ethnographic level, but as music itself, something to listen to and enjoy. I must admit to having thoughts of wanting to travel and explore the world and by listening this album I can be transported to sub-Saharan Africa.

The delicate matching of guitars with percussion seems to create a sense of collaborative effort, making each instrument speak, and the use of the voice as instrument has opened a box of endless possibilities.

It is rare that I say my favourite track is an album opener, but for me the track 'Imidiwan Afrik Tendam' defines the nature of Tinariwen, which is a relaxing pace that lets you take in what surrounds your ears at ease. The distinctive call and response vocals and textural build ups and build downs are exciting, but taken at ease with no real hurry to get anywhere. Other highlight tracks include the polyrhythmic majesty of 'Lulla,' which encourages you to listen to the different rhythms following through different time signatures, in a way similar to an optical illusion. Track 'Tenhert' gives a strong Malian flavour in its guitar part and shows the distinct, desert-blues style the band has created.

For me this album is a success for Tinariwen, once again bringing their desert-blues rock to town and giving us a new angle on their sound, that is simply superb. Even though to understand the lyrics you have to consult the inlay, the music is superb. Tinariwen will continue to represent the musical intents of the Touareg and, if they record their recent collaborations with Tunng, we could be treated to one of the most memorable albums ever made!



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