The exotic and beautiful African/Middle Eastern sounds of Tinariwen, a band from the southern Sahara, overcome any language barrier. The group’s latest album, Tassili—their first for counterculture label Anti—is rhythmic, acoustic, subtle but riveting. Their music seems to be “other” enough to American listeners to fascinate, but at the same time, this music has a good deal in common with the roots of familiar soul and blues.
All of the members of the group are nomadic people who were forced into military service under Colonel Gadhafi, and Tinariwen’s music addresses the repression exile they have faced. As a result, the group’s music has been banned in Algeria and Mali. Recorded in Paris and in a protected region of the Southeastern Algerian desert, this record is an act of rebellion unto itself, built around acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. Electric guitar work by Wilco’s Nels Cline and some understated horn parts by New Orleans’ Dirty Dozen Brass Band were added in before the final mix. Check out this new, wonderful album of “desert blues.”
Producers: Ian Brennan and Jean Paul Romman. Recording Engineers: Tom Schick, Mark Wheaton, Andris Balins, Jake Eckert, Romann. Mixing: David Odlum. Studios: Tassili N’Ajjer’s Desert (South Algeria), Studios Soyuz (Paris), The Loft (Chicago), Catasonic (Los Angeles), The Barn (New York), Rhythm Shack (New Orleans), Black Box Studios (Angers, France). Mastering: John Golden/Golden Mastering (Ventura, Calif.).