Emmaar - Tinariwen


It's a bone of contention amongst linguists; whether the people of the north really do have many more words to describe snow than we do in English. It turns out, Inuit and Yupik language groups use suffixes to specify differences on any topic, though the root words may be few and similar. Another study of the Sami language of northern Scandinavia however, does indicate 180 snow and ice related words and maybe 1000 different words for reindeer (presumably not counting Rudolph and his seven bros). Humans have a detailed eye for their surroundings. I'm guessing the Tuareg people of the Sahara have many different words to describe, sand, heat and desert topography to name a few. Tinariwen, the original Tuareg rebel guitar rockers present their seventh album, Emmaar which means 'The heat on the breeze'. Once again, they expertly envelop and transport the listener into a world only their people could know and describe so intimately; a world that shimmers with heat waves and stifles with diminishing freedoms. Because of the complex and shifting political persuasions of their homeland, the band decided to record in another desert, half a world away; California's Joshua Tree. The cover art of Emmaar illustrates the traditionally garbed band enjoying a corral of horses as opposed to their usual camel mounts. But, lyrically, Tinarwen continue to draw us back to their desert and the injustice against their people. The disc opens on Toumast Tincha (The People Have Been Sold Out), grooving out of a resonant intro recitation by guest beat poet, Saul Williams. It almost reminds me of Robbie Robertson's monologue interspersed through ' Somewhere Down The Crazy River'. The translation of the song provides an easy to understand message; "The ideals of the people have been sold off cheap, my friends. Any peace imposed by force is bound to fail and give way to hatred. My people, where is that self-confidence, made of dignity and beauty of spirit, that our ancestors bequeathed to us?" And so it goes; seemingly, the present stings most for those who try to preserve the past. But, far from being shackled to tradition, Tinariwen are a progressive and global band. Recently, despite the travel restrictions they've suffered in the past, they saw two countries new to their eyes; India and Chile. Chile in particular, home to the Atacama, the driest desert in the world, made an indelible impression on Ag Alhabib's mind. Musically, Emmaar stays the course they've made signature, with poignant, almost lazy electric noodling and chanting over incredible head-bobbing grooves. The Chili Peppers' Josh Klinghoffer presumably was close enough to Joshua Tree to commute some additional licks to key tracks on the CD. Tinariwen have opened the door for many desert blues performers but none can touch or entrance quite as deeply.