The desert is a place of hardship and subtle beauty, a stark world that reveals its secrets slowly and carefully. For the renowned Saharan band TINARIWEN, the desert is their home, their hypnotic and electrifying guitar rock reflecting the complex realities of their homebase in North West Africa. The band is set to release their new album Emmaar on February 11th.
Emmaar is the follow up to the group’s 2011 album Tassili, recorded in the Algerian desert with an esteemed cadre of musicians including Wilco’s Nels Cline and TV on the Radios Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone the album won a Grammy for Best World Music.
But due to political instability in their homeland, TINARIWEN recorded the new record in another desert: Joshua Tree, California. Created over three weeks in the region known for spaced-out rock n roll and psychedelic cowboy folk, Emmaar showcases an organic feel from the rolling hand drums and meandering guitars of album opener Toumast Tincha chants to the galloping beats of the forward-marching Chaghaybou. We were not in a proper studio or outside in the desert like Tassili, Ag Leche says, we built a studio in a big house in Joshua Tree. Everybody in the same room, with no separation. We wanted something which sounded natural and live.
Along with the original members who founded the group in the 1980s (vocalists and guitarists Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, and Alhassane Ag Touhami) and the younger generation who grew up listening to the band and joined in the 1990s (multi-instrumentalist Eyadou Ag Leche, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, and percussionist Said Ag Ayad), a group of American musicians appear on the album. Accompanied by Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Matt Sweeney from Chavez, Nashville fiddler Fats Kaplin, and poet Saul Williams, Emmaar (mixed by Vance Powell (Jack White, The Dead Weather ) is a richly layered listen solidified by atmospheric textures and gritty guitar-work.