Tinariwen – Tassili+10:1

January 01, 1970




Known as masters of the indigenous North African genre
called “Touareg,” Tinariwen may have found inroads only to the most adventurous
western ears had it not been for an endorsement by Robert Plant, an artist
whose fondness for world music has had an especially pervasive influence on his
own outings. And given the group’s willingness to breach a wider audience, pick
up western instruments and invite some players with hip credentials to join
their ranks, at least on record (TV on the Radio, Nels Cline of Wilco and the
Dirty Dozen Brass Band all make an appearance here), a few concessions were all
but inevitable.


Still, Tassili +10:1 isn’t a homogenized take on Third World folk traditions. Playing off some spare
native instrumentation, trademark chants, and songs sung in their native
tongue, it’s still an exotic aural adventure, albeit one that’s often hypnotic
and intoxicating as well. The mournful pall of “Tenere Taqhim Tossam” (“Jealous
Desert”) and “Ya Messenagh” (“Oh, Lord”) are, for all their longing and
solemnity, surprisingly captivating, and when the group is in full throttle, as
on “Imidiwan Ma Tenam” (“What Have You Got To Say My Friends?”) and “Imidiwan
Win Sahara” (“My Friends From the Sahara”), it’s nearly impossible to resist
the temptation to move to the groove.


The instrumental nuances make for a vibrant whole, but often
times, less works best. That’s particularly true of songs like “Walla Illa” and
“Tamiditin Tan Ufrawan” (“My Secretive Girlfriend”), which, with their lone
acoustic guitars, sound every bit as plaintive and persuasive as dusty
Americana ballads. As a result, it’s rare to find a record that’s both so
charming and challenging all at the same time.

DOWNLOAD: “Walla Illa,” “Imidiwan Ma
Tenam,” “Imidiwan Win Sahara” LEE ZIMMERMAN



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