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Tinariwen - Imidiwan: Companions

Tinariwen , Imidiwan: Companions

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IMIDIWAN: Companions marks the fourth album from Mali collective Tinariwen… those former Gaddafi conscripts who have now set themselves up on the world music stage.

Featuring the same bluesy African music that has become their hallmark, it’s either an inspired insight into music from a different culture, or a long, ambling journey that begins to sound the same after a while. In our opinion, it represents a little of both.

Tinariwen exist far, far away from the mainstream even though their music helped to inspire Coldplay’s Chris Martin while he was assembling Viva La Vida.

It’s essentially bluesy rhythms set against either mournful moans or slightly more upbeat women’s chanting. Lyrically, it’s very personal, speaking of the dispossessed people of that part of the world. And, as such, it’s much less mainstream than the likes of Amadou and Mariam, who have really brought their Mali music to the masses thanks to collaborations with the likes of Damon Albarn and DJ Rob Da Bank.

That means it’s also more of an acquired taste. But tracks like Chabiba, with its enticing blend of moaning, ryhthm guitar and women’s vocals, and Ere Tasfata Adounia, which brings the album to a close with some slightly more fiery vocals and a dusky, bluesy, meaty guitar riff and vibe are worth hearing.

Album highlight Tahult In is genuinely rousing stuff, and somehow strangely funky with it, while Kel Tamashek is similarly vibrant and more upbeat than a lot of the material.

But be warned: Tinariwen like to jam and indulge their passion for playing music. Tracks often last in excess of five minutes and given their reliance on basic principals can sound repetitive. It’s always good to broaden your music tastes across nations and cultures, if only to see where some of the influences from the more adventurous mainstream performers come from.

But Imidiwan is best appreciated in small doses rather than taking the whole journey.

Download picks: Chabiba, Tahult In, Kel Tamashek

Track listing:

  1. Imidiwan Afrik Tendam
  2. Lulla
  3. Tenhert
  4. Enseqi Ehad Didagh
  5. Tahult In
  6. Tamudjeras Assis
  7. Intitlayaghen
  8. Imazaghen n Adagh
  9. Chegret
  10. Kel Tamashek
  11. Assuf Ag Assuf
  12. Chabiba
  13. Ere Tasfata Adounia