Diamonds in the rough


Amassakoul (Independent Records IRL014, 2004)

Carrying on from their much-lauded debut CD, released in the UK on Wayward
Records, Amassakoul showcases this group of Tuareg musicians from a
displaced community living on the borders of the Sahara Desert. Their
involvement in initiating the emergent phenomenon called ‘Le Festival du Désert’
which takes place in Essakane, Northern Mali, in early January, has done much to
increase their visibility internationally.

Tinariwen’s sound, essentially, approximates to that of North African
neighbor, Malian master bluesman
Farka Touré
, both in the use of electric
guitars and the rhythmic styles adopted. The main difference here with Ali’s
music is that this is an ensemble performance, featuring the searing ululations
of female vocalists and gruffly lilting workaday male chorus, the beat-perfect
clapping redolent of cultures to the north, in Morocco, Algeria & Spain and
subtly repetitive, mesmeric refrains. These are not easy, take a relaxing trip
around the world type grooves. The music here challenges and questions, it’s not
for the faint-hearted, but it is deeply and richly rewarding for the committed