Boomkat Product Review:
Stephen O’Malley, Warren Ellis (Dirty Three/The Bad Seeds) and Cass McCombs guest on the latest dispatch from Mali’s Tuareg Blues troupe Tinariwen
"The best Tinariwen album hasn’t been recorded yet. Perhaps it never will be. Because the best Tinariwen music isn’t the music they perform in front of microphones. It’s the music they play at night around the fire, back in their own country, amongst themselves and at their own pace. In those moments, the music can become like the fire - free, magical and impossible to stuff into a box. Their discography - stretching out over the last 17 years - plus all the tours and the international recognition have changed nothing: Tinariwen are still a desert band, only certain aspects of which the western music industry can ever hope to capture and present. Tinariwen existed long before any of their albums were recorded and they still exist quite distinct from their discographic dimension. So, the best Tinariwen album doesn’t exist but it’s still worth trying to go and find it.
‘Amadjar’, the ninth Tinariwen album, is as close as you can get to Tinariwen. And also, therefore, to the idea that things can evolve: bassist Eyadou plays a lot of acoustic guitar; percussionist Said tries his hand at new instruments and the violin that appears on several songs and reminds you of the traditional imzad is actually played by Warren Ellis. The violinist in Nick Cave’s band is one of several western guests on the album. We also hear the mandolin and charango of Micah Nelson (son of the country music giant Willie Nelson and Neil Young’s guitarist) and the guitars of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))), Cass McCombs and Rodolphe Burger. The album is mixed by Jack White’s buddy Joshua Vance Smith.
‘Amadjar’ means ‘the unknown visitor’ in Tamashek, the one who seeks hospitality and who’s condemned to an inner exile, within a territory or within himself; just like the members of Tinariwen, who feel at home on the journey, around the fire with a few immutable songs."