Two World Music posts coming up. Firstly………..
Since the collaboration between Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure blossomed onto the music scene with “Talking Timbuktu” I have had a fascination with exploring World Music, and in particular, what the continent of Africa has to offer ( and from there my explorations wandered Eastwards, as you’ll see). But it was the beginning for me. The start of world explorations from the comfort of my armchair and headphones.
I sank into Malian blues and dreamt of a holiday touring the live music spots, soaking up the smokey darkness, flitting mosquitos, camp fires and the taut twang of electric guitar slicing through the air to hand-clapped rhythms. Sadly, that now seems a forlorn hope as Mali cowers under extremism and is becoming increasingly unsafe for foreign visitors.
So it was that with the enthusiasm of someone who has found a new love I grabbed the early music of Tinariwen – the Tuareg tribesmen, soldiers cum musicians, who burst onto the international stage in the fading wake of “Timbuktu”, emerging from the desert in the early 2000’s, having been together in an embryonic form since the early 80’s. Wikipedia has it all, it really is worth a read to get the full background on the band.
We’d never heard anything like their music in the wider sphere. Western music fans were being exposed to a new sound….. and we lapped it up.
Success bred success and Tinariwen are now huge across the world – and justifiably so.
I confess, that after the initial excitement, I felt that the music was sticking in the successful rut designated for it by the record companies and the promoters. Having been poor musicians living in the Sahara desert, I couldn’t blame them or deny them their new found success, but for me it was time to move on.
I skimmed new albums, new tracks, waiting for something, anything, that would re-ignite the desert fire. This is probably the reason it has taken me a year to listen to their new album “Tassili” .
I’m glad I have. It’s superb. Recorded in the desert over three weeks, the band have returned to their roots on some songs and complimented these with self-penned songs that all have the round-the-campfire feel. The electric guitars are largely gone, the acoustics are out. There are some horns here and there. There is a laid back feel that has been missing for some time from Tinariwen albums where the driving electric blues hallmark has won the day. There is pain and hunger, yet reckless wailing sax on “Ya Messinagh” evokes the freest sax riffing I’ve heard in a long time.
The album is a delight, slipping into your consciousness like warm honey, or hot sweet tea.There are guest appearance by singer Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist Kyp Malone from TV on The Radio on the song “Tenere Taqqim Tossam” . The band are touring the US in October and coming to London later. Here is “Iswegh Attay” . A lovely song, and fascinating to watch the ceremonial making of tea ! Enjoy.