"Emmaar," Tinariwen #TunesTuesday

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tinariwen Emmaar world fusion music new album

Remember when I said last week that I was going to try to do a "Tunes Tuesday" in which I explored artists I may not have otherwise given a shot? Well here's one for you today who is really different from the kind of music I typically write about! I'm talking about Tinariwen, which is a band from the Sahara Desert region of Mali.

Occasionally I find the urge to listen to a little bit of World Music, and that usually entails Brazilian bossa nova (is that even considered World Music?), North or West African, or Celtic. But really, as the internet brings us closer together and makes the world smaller, it becomes almost impossible not to realize that there are strands of all kinds of music in all music. Music truly is a universal language.

Tinariwen is a Tuareg band that formed in 1979 in Algeria. The Tuareg are a nomadic people, but generally live in Mali, Algeria and Niger. While in exile in Algeria, Ag Alhabib formed the band to play at parties and weddings, and people began to call them "Kel Tinariwen," which translates to "The Desert Boys."

What's particularly interesting about Tinariwen is that the band is made up of an always-changing collective of musicians. There's something about this practice that -- save for the Menudos of the world -- says that the band and the people that make up the band are all about the music, and not the fame.

But fame has come to Tinariwen. In 2011, "Tassili" -- an album that heavily featured the acoustic guitar -- won a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Now the band is gearing up for the release of their seventh studio album, "Emmaar," in February. Unlike their previous albums, "Emmaar" was recorded outside of their homeland, in the deserts of Joshua Tree, California. And "Emmaar" features collaborations with some well-known American musicians and producers, including Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. With the addition of the electric guitar, "Emmaar" has both a "rock-ier" feel to it and a sultry "cowboy in the hot desert" kind of Southwestern sound that puts the band at the forefront of accessible world fusion music.

Photo: Marie Planeille, tinariwen.com

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