When you consider the humble beginnings of Malian Tuareg desert blues collective Tinariwen as rebel fighters/part-time musicians, and their current status one of the most popular `world’ music acts, it’s the finest example of how extraordinary music can transcend borders, or in Tinariwen’s case, the entire Sahara Desert, no matter its linguistic or marketing limitations. Over the past number of years, and over a string of outstanding albums and incendiary festival performances these unpretentious nomads have won hearts and minds. Aman Iman, released in 2007, was the cool sound of that year, whether for its cultural affect and coffee table positioning, or for the addictive qualities of its trance-inducing rhythm section. Let’s just say if one were to own one world music album of that year, it would have been Aman Iman.
Imidiwan:Companions is their fourth album, rich with the same blues licks, goatskin percussion, and their collective voices in harmony following the lead of founding member and band leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib’s ancient vocal. They play on the strengths of previous albums, and whoever takes lead vocal sings almost every line twice, with the repeated line accompanied by the rest of the band. Their subject matter remains firmly where their heart is—their love of their homeland, freedom, and the fight to be able to enjoy simple pleasures in life.
The main thing for me in enjoying Imidiwan is that in the wake of international success and an extended life amidst the western world during numerous sell out tours, they have remained firmly grounded in their traditions. Some may feel that Imidiwan sounds too similar to Aman Iman, and at times it does, but pay attention to the bass solo in “Tenhert,” the moment the brilliant (amp turned up to 11) beat comes in “Kel Tamashek” or the dream inducing second half of closing track “Ere Tasfata Adounia” for reassurance that Tinariwen can stretch themselves. Imidiwan is a pleasure, full of honesty and purity, but most importantly superb music, and will in no doubt increase Tinariwen’s following and our love affair with this unique band.
Ali Farka Touré – Radio Mali
Amadou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali
Toumani Diabaté – Djelika