Tinariwen is the kind of rebellious group every rock band wishes they could be. Coming from northern Mali, the band is made up of a continuously revolving set of Tuareg musicians whose members have been parts of various rebel movements and conflicts since the late 70s. Their music comes from deep within the blues tradition, and emanates the kind of true blue that can only be understood by those who have gone through bloody conflict, but can still be felt by every listener. In fact, there may be few more blue than the Tuareg community, who have been called the “blue people” for the indigo-dye colored clothes they traditionally wear and which stains their skin.
Tinariwen has just released the third song from their upcoming album Elwan, due out February 10th via Anti-. The band is currently living in Joshua Tree National Park, having been forced out of Mali. “Assawt” takes a look at the women who have been left behind. The song begins with an acoustic guitar windily plucking before a hypnotic beat picks up. Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni sings for the Tamashek women fighting for freedom “living in a Sahara devoid of water / Desiccated and miserable.” He sings, “My wish for [them] is to stop being subservient.” An electric guitar bleeds into the background and Ag Alhousseyni’s is joined by the rest of the band, “That’s the voice of the Tamashek women,” the men sing, “searching for their freedom.”
It’s the kind of blues infected chant that can be felt without understanding the words. The desert sands and deserted dunes are brought to life with a never ceasing kind of movement like the continuous clicks of the clock. The blues naturally flow from the guitar, even it’s speedy state, roaming through and delivering a message that cannot be forgot.
For it’s honesty and spirit, we give it 11 out of 11 arbitrary units, constructed to give the impression of a standard by which to measure rebellion.
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