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Aman Iman - Water Is Life

Tinariwen

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Album Review

Hand it to Tinariwen. Like the nomads they are, they don't stand still musically. On their third album (the title translates as Water Is Life), they keep the root intact, the desert blues still at the heart of all they do, but this builds upon what they achieved on their superb sophomore disc, happily restless and unafraid of walking down new paths. However, although they're rightly lauded for their widescreen blues sound, what emerges most here is something they hinted at on the last record — they're a remarkable rock & roll band, too. The guitars, locked together in rhythm and lead, create a glorious syncopated noise that puts most rockers to shame. But there's a wonderful looseness to the sound (kudos to producer Justin Adams), in part due to the fact that these tracks were all recorded over just two weeks, a tiny time frame by today's standards. Recorded in the Malian capital of Bamako, these songs arrive with dust on their boots and a little thirsty. The studio touches are subtle, a little on the effects here and there, but never detract from the music — which even features old member Mohammed Ag Itlale, whose voice and guitar can be heard on several tracks.

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Azawad, Mali

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tinariwen is a Tuareg group that performs a guitar-centric branch of Malian music that, to the untrained ear, is reminiscent of Ali Farka Touré's, but is far more rock-oriented and percussive. All of the band's musicians originate from the southern Sahara; the group's name, meaning "empty places," is a reflection of their land of origin. The band formed in the rebel camps of Colonel Gaddafi, as each of the musicians had been forced from their nomadic lifestyle into involuntary military service. Surrounded...
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Aman Iman - Water Is Life, Tinariwen
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