13 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Take the music of Tinariwen at face value: deeply rich, rhythmic Tuareg melodies, beautifully crafted on (mostly) Western guitars. But look a little deeper at the history and stories within, and you’ll find so much more than desert blues. Forty years since they formed—and about two decades since the Western world discovered them—the nomadic Tuareg collective’s ninth album was written on the move as the musicians traveled through the Western Sahara, from Morocco to Mauritania, where they recorded with griot Noura Mint Seymali. They eventually set up camp for two weeks, recording songs about political strife and military conflict and existential pondering, live in a tent without so much as headphones. Listen for the hum of chirping crickets in the background, and snippets of distant animated conversations between songs.

Western musicians including Nels Cline, Mark Lanegan, and Kurt Vile have contributed to Tinariwen’s last few albums, and Amadjar continues this tradition. One of the first sounds you’ll hear is the delicate, spidery violin of Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, Dirty Three), on one of five songs to feature the virtuosic multi-instrumentalist. “Amalouna” feels vast, with Seymali’s learned vocals and the low, slow-burning guitar of Sunn O)))‘s Stephen O’Malley stretching out the atmosphere, evocative of the boundless desert. Micah Nelson (Neil Young’s guitarist and Willie’s son) contributed to “Taqkal Tarha,” a gently buoyant lamentation. “Money has become a commodity, the worm has become a bird,” goes the English translation. “Nothing has any meaning, days follow each other and look the same.” The dispirited sentiment is echoed on “Mhadjar Yassouf Idjan,” also featuring Ellis. “How can I live with the emptiness that has taken hold of my soul, and devoured me little by little?” But the message is far more defiant and direct on “Kel Tinawen,” a bass-heavy track which features Cass McCombs: “Evil tongues, you can keep talking. The uprising will be impossible to suppress.”

Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

Take the music of Tinariwen at face value: deeply rich, rhythmic Tuareg melodies, beautifully crafted on (mostly) Western guitars. But look a little deeper at the history and stories within, and you’ll find so much more than desert blues. Forty years since they formed—and about two decades since the Western world discovered them—the nomadic Tuareg collective’s ninth album was written on the move as the musicians traveled through the Western Sahara, from Morocco to Mauritania, where they recorded with griot Noura Mint Seymali. They eventually set up camp for two weeks, recording songs about political strife and military conflict and existential pondering, live in a tent without so much as headphones. Listen for the hum of chirping crickets in the background, and snippets of distant animated conversations between songs.

Western musicians including Nels Cline, Mark Lanegan, and Kurt Vile have contributed to Tinariwen’s last few albums, and Amadjar continues this tradition. One of the first sounds you’ll hear is the delicate, spidery violin of Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, Dirty Three), on one of five songs to feature the virtuosic multi-instrumentalist. “Amalouna” feels vast, with Seymali’s learned vocals and the low, slow-burning guitar of Sunn O)))‘s Stephen O’Malley stretching out the atmosphere, evocative of the boundless desert. Micah Nelson (Neil Young’s guitarist and Willie’s son) contributed to “Taqkal Tarha,” a gently buoyant lamentation. “Money has become a commodity, the worm has become a bird,” goes the English translation. “Nothing has any meaning, days follow each other and look the same.” The dispirited sentiment is echoed on “Mhadjar Yassouf Idjan,” also featuring Ellis. “How can I live with the emptiness that has taken hold of my soul, and devoured me little by little?” But the message is far more defiant and direct on “Kel Tinawen,” a bass-heavy track which features Cass McCombs: “Evil tongues, you can keep talking. The uprising will be impossible to suppress.”

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

Das Boone ,

Transfixed

Transfixed

More By Tinariwen