Rebel music is ensconced in the DNA of Malian nomad group Tinariwen. Started in the early Eighties as a band of drifters-turned-guerrilla musicians, this septet of African blues players is essentially a group of political refugees creating its own liberation anthems one note at a time. Alchemizing traditional Tuareg blues with West African, Middle Eastern, and psychedelic rock elements, Tinariwen speaks out for disenfranchised people struggling for rights and identity in the modern world. The group's music is pure Bedouin artistry and steers clear of Afro-pop at every opportunity. But most American audiences have never heard of Tinariwen. Thus the release of its newest album Aman Iman, which translates to "water is life," offers gringo listeners an introduction to Tinariwen's hypnotic guitar-laden sound and sociopolitical lyrics. Choice cuts include "Matadjem Yinmixan" ("Why All This Hate Between You?"), "Assouf" ("Longing"), and the surging "Tamatant Tilay" ("Death Is Here"). The group's electric guitar licks and Tamashek-sung lyrics achieve a spaced-out, trancelike quality that permeates deeper with each listen. Throw in some up-tempo Djembe drumming fused with rhythmic handclaps, and Aman Iman becomes an album you can dance to, rock with, and be in awe of all at once. At one point, just owning one of Tinariwen's cassette tapes was deemed illegal by the Malian authorities, so consider yourself lucky and cop the new disc without fear of persecution.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Braden Ruddy