The desert is a place of hardship and subtle beauty, a stark world that reveals its secrets slowly and carefully. Life in the desert is resilient and strong, and the people are gentle giants among the sand, storms, and sun. For saharan blues band tinariwen, the desert is their home, and their hypnotic and electrifying guitar rock reflects complex realities of their homebase in north west africa.
They are Tuareg, descended from nomadic people who have wandered the dunes for millennia, but the music of tinariwen travels too, reverberating far from dusty plains of mali. Their 2011 album tassili, recorded in the algerian desert — in a tent and under the stars with a esteemed cadre of musicians including nels cline and tv on the radio’s tunde adebimpe and kyp malone — won a grammy award for best world music. Now their new record emmaar returns to their roots, delivering stripped-down dirges, effervescent anthems, and above all, a return to simplicity and honesty.