Tinariwen Imidiwan: Companions

Tinariwen Imidiwan: Companions
Given their roots as armed rebels in the Sahara, it's not surprising Tinariwen became media sensations. It's now time to focus on their music rather than the romanticized view of their militant past, and this, their fourth album, vividly demonstrates that they are amongst the most important of world music ensembles. The combination of fluently melodic yet powerful guitar and male/female backing vocals has a mesmerizing and hypnotic effect not dramatically different than that induced by West African neighbours King Sunny Ade. Five different lead vocalists are used (group patriarch Ibrahim Ag Alhabib is featured the most) but the sound is seamless. Imidiwan was recorded in the quiet Mali desert village of Tessalit, and the group's comfort level in the surroundings clearly aided their performance. An informative CD booklet and lyric sheet share the group's hard-won wisdom ("regret is like a worm, anxiety is like war") and a bonus DVD documentary makes for fascinating viewing. Ultimately, this vibrant and virile music stands on its own. (Outside)