While there's reason to rage against the media saturation inherent to the internet (e.g. too many chill/witch/triangle clone bands uploading from their bedrooms), you've got to celebrate the World Wide Web for the incomparable access it grants to musical worlds previously impossible to connect with.
For example, the delicately intricate, cryptically soulful desert blues of Tinariwen, a nomadic collective of ex-Tuareg rebels that has traveled the cracked, dry land of North Africa for over 25 years.
Before the internet, it might've taken a little effort to learn about (and a bit more effort to hear) a band like Tinariwen. But in 2011, it's all at our fingertips. And thus, former revolutionaries from Africa end up chilling hard at nightclubby concert halls like Grand Central.
Founded in 1980 by a collective of Malian revolutionaries (who met in Libya under similarly rebellious circumstances), the group channelled its passion into a politicized blend of West African assouf-style guitar, the gang vocals of Northern Algerian Berber music, and American blues cadence via Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin, not to mention other Western styles, like the deep-fried Latin rock riffage of Carlos Santana and the political riddims of Bob Marley.
In the early 2000s, thanks to French world music composers, Lo'Jo, Tinariwen eventually crossed over to Western Europe where the band became a regular fixture at festivals like the UK's annual World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD). From there, this rebel rock crew's transition to the States was merely a hop across the pond thanks to the internet era's blogosphere-engendered fascination with deeply regional folk-rock amalgams, particularly those from Africa and the Middle East.
Alongside the top-tier pan-genre, pan-cultural record label Sublime Frequencies and Damon Albarn's 2002 Mali Music -- an album recorded by the Blur/Gorillaz frontman with Tuareg players -- Tinariwen is a major bullet point in the cross-continental dialogue between East, West, folk, and rock.
The band's latest full-length, Tassili, marks a pronounced shift in its songwriting. The album is the group's first entirely acoustic affair -- plus the collective has opened its doors to guitar and vocals from American indie-rockers Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, as well as some blowin' from hip-hop swingers The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Though wrought from a perennial desert tradition of folk music, Tinariwen is looking more and more 2011 everyday.
Tinariwen with Sophie Hunger, presented by Rhythm Foundation. Thursday, November 10. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $25 plus fees via fla.vor.us. Call 305 672 5202 or visit rhythmfoundation.com.
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