Tinariwen - Emmaar (4 stars)

Tinariwen - Emmaar

Some Americana-esque touches blend gorgeously into the desert bluesmen's mesmeric trance rock


Six albums in, Tuareg band Tinariwen remain the masters of Saharan desert blues. While recent studio efforts by fellow travellers Bombino and Tamikrest have been disappointingly over-produced, Emmaar sounds beautifully open, with the group's snakey guitars, fluid bass and rolling camel train grooves given room to breathe.

The sound might be far removed from the boom-box fidelities of Sublime Frequencies' Guitars from Agadez series, but producer Vance Powell does a fine job, bringing a subtle reverb drift to the dynamic live performances, recalling the cosmic roots sound Daniel Lanois fashioned on Emmylou Harris' 1995 masterpiece Wrecking Ball. The atmospheric 'Toumast Tincha' and 'Sendad Eghlalan' shimmer on a haze of pedal steel, while the outstanding 'Imadiwanin Ahi Tifhamam' sees Said Ag Sayad's driving hand-percussion traced by Fats Kaplin's Cajun fiddle. Rather than come across as concessions to Americana, these touches blend gorgeously into Tinariwen's mesmeric trance rock.



Hard rocking blues from a band formed in a refugee camp in Libya in the early 1980s, made up of nomadic Touaregs from the Malian Sahara desert.

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