Album Reviews

Tinariwen – Emmaar (ANTI-)

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Tinariwen EmmaarTinariwen won a well-deserved Grammy for their 2011 album, Tassili, recorded in their home, the Sahara desert. Due to political instability at home, they went to another desert to record their new album: Joshua Tree, CA. They built a studio that would position everyone in the same room. They didn’t want separation to mar their organic, natural sound. The result is an album of rich atmospheric textures and stellar, hypnotic guitar work.

Tinariwen found inspiration during their small tour of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, drawing on the sheer expansiveness of the territory. Somehow, the desert seems to speak through them. It is truly an exercise in world music. Indeed, it’s proof that it isn’t love, but music (or, perhaps, love of music), that is the universal tongue.

No, I do not understand the lyrics, which only enhances the mystique of this album. It would be foolish to try to identify a favorite or best track. The music is so organic and flows so convincingly that what emerges is a single exhilarating listening experience. In the long-ago ’60s, I might have called this “head music.” Now, I receive it gratefully as the music of the earth. These guys are good and the music is absolutely transporting. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss the trip.

– Robert Myers

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