Tinariwen: Show Preview

Some musicians become inseparable from a locale: think N.W.A's connection to Compton, Elvis to Memphis, the Sex Pistols to London. Tinariwen, a 35-year-old band with an ever-shifting cast, is another example of the musician-location bond in action, although not in the way you might think. This nomadic outfit — which combines traditional Tuareg music from Africa, Middle Eastern guitar music, and rock of the psychedelic, blues, and drone varieties — is historically rooted in the West African country of Mali in the Sahara, but most closely identifies with the desert itself. In the Tuareg tongue Tamasheq, “Tinariwen” translates to “people of the desert,” and its arid sound aims to channel a kind of sublime desolation. When the outfit recently recorded in the U.S. for the first time, the members chose to lay down their new album, Emmaar, in the Mojave Desert. “We need to feel the natural elements,” bassist Eyadou Ag Leche told Philadelphia Weekly: “The sand, the silence, the air, the wind, the rocks, the freedom feeling.”

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