Check Out Tinariwen’s Unique Blend of Tuareg Desert Blues

at the UC Theatre

(Courtesy of Tinariwen)

While it’s a bummer that I can’t understand the track titles (or album name) on Tuareg desert blues collective Tinariwen’s recent album, Elwan, at least music is an international language that everyone can comprehend. I can still tell that “Argegh ad Annagh” is a contemplative song, and “Hayati” a celebratory party track. The languorous, somber nature of electric-guitar solo “Ittus” is more than apparent, and the road-trip-playlist potential of “Tenere Taqqal” would be hard to miss.

Stemming from Mali and Angora, Tinariwen’s current lineup includes at least seven members, but that’s only an estimate. The collective has been around since the late ’70s, and because of the Tuareg people’s nomadic lifestyle, as well as transportation and communication difficulties in the Sahara, it has seen a range of singers, songwriters, and musicians throughout the years.

It’s a shame that two of Tinariwen’s most influential members died before 2007, the year that Aman Iman came out and listeners around the world started paying attention to the group. Since then, everyone from Slate to NPR to Pitchfork has fawned over them, and it’s a rare treat to see Tinariwen live.

Tinariwen
With Dengue Fever, at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 1, at the UC Theatre in Berkeley. $39.50; theuctheatre.org

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