• Sharing Desert World in Songs of Survival

    Sharing Desert World in Songs of Survival

    They stand tall and proud in the barren desert landscape, flowing robes and headdresses protecting them from the sun - a picture of traditional nomadic tribespeople. But, on stage, the members of Saharan band Tinariwen are fully plugged into the modern Western world with a sound dominated by electric guitar.

    Theirs is an intriguing blend combining haunting chant-like vocals with full-on bluesy rock riffs that has been capturing the imagination of British musicians as well as audiences all over Europe, starting at world music festivals. Chris Martin told Rolling Stone magazine recently that the band's sound had a great influence on Coldplay's new album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.

    Last time Tinariwen were in Cornwall was to be part of the Live 8 Africa Calling show at the Eden Project three years ago. Next week they return to headline their own show at Falmouth's Princess Pavilion as part of a UK tour.

    The band's history is steeped in myth and romanticism - their quiet musical revolution was going on for 20 years before anyone outside Africa sat up and listened to their songs of independence and survival.

    At its heart is founder member and lead vocalist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (aka Abaraybone), whose father was killed by the Malian government.

    He is credited with inventing the Tamashek electric guitar back in 1982 when he teamed up with two other young Tuareg exiles in the desert oasis of Tamanrasset in South Algeria - Hassan Ag Touhami (aka The Lion of the Desert) and Inteyeden (who died in 1994). All three fell in love with the sound of the guitar and the power of amplification, representing modernity and freedom.

    They wrote songs about the lives they had left behind and their new existence away from family and friends and called themselves Kel Tinariwen, the "desert boys".

    During the 1980s they became soldier-musicians in the military camps of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. After fighting a brief rebellion against the government of Mali, with their songs as the soundtrack, they accepted peace and turned to music full-time.

    After recording many albums on cassette, their first album in CD format in 2000 - The Radio Tisdas Sessions - was the first available outside of Africa. Their performance at Le Festival au Desert, in a remote region of the Sahara Desert, in 2001, opened the doors further to world audiences, and they have been making ever bigger waves ever since.

    Line-ups have been fluid through the years, but always with the wild-haired troubadour Ibrahim at the helm and Hassan providing compelling dance grooves.

    Tinariwen have dedicated their latest and third album, Aman Iman, to "peace, tolerance and development in the Sahara and in the world of the oppressed". It was produced by British musician and composer Justin Adams, who is renowned for his work with Robert Plant, and has done much to break new ground in the world music field.

    Tinariwen perform at the Princess Pavilion, Falmouth, on Wednesday, August 27. Box office: 01326 211222 or visit www.seetickets.com They also play the Cheese and Grain at Frome, Somerset, on August 28

    (c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.


    Source: Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK)

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