Tinariwen Imidiwan: Companions Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

It hypnotically blends Malian desert blues with twanging guitar-led Tichumaren agit-prop.

Michael Quinn 2009

Album number four from Tinariwen reunites the Touareg troubadours with producer Jean-Paul Romann for the first time since 2001's debut offering, The Radio Tisdas Sessions.

Following 2007's acclaimed Aman Iman, this new 13-strong collection finds the Saharan seven-piece continuing to fire on musical cylinders souped up over the best part of three decades together. That it offers a more-of-the-same proposition that hypnotically blends Malian desert blues with twanging guitar-led Tichumaren agit-prop to create a sound altogether unique, is surely recommendation enough.

Romann takes a back-to-basics, don't-get-in-the-way approach on Imidiwan: Companions that serves the material well. Opening track Imidiwan Afrik Tendam ('My Friends From All Over Africa') gets things off to a warm, quietly celebratory start before Lulla sparks into enticing sirenic life.

There's vitality and colour aplenty in the magnificent invocation of a desert deer, Tenhert ('The Doe'), and in the swirling delirium of Kel Tamashek ('The Tamashek People').

Insinuating itself throughout is a dark beauty that hints at the political and cultural hardships of north African life, with Chegret ('The Thread') an unyielding but wistful interrogation of surviving on a shifting ocean of sand beneath burning sun. No less haunting is Assuf Ag Assuf ('Assuf, Son of Assuf') while Tamudjeras Assis ('Regret Is Like A Storm') scorches with its coruscating intensity before the radiantly beautiful Chabiba ('Youth') and otherworldly-sounding untitled hidden bonus track brings things to a mesmerising conclusion

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