TINARIWEN Imidiwan: Companions (Independiente)

It’s become a cliché to mention describe Tinariwen’s music as desert blues, but, like all clichés, there’s more than a grain of truth to it. Their sound is parched but optimistic; constructed from massed voices, handclaps, fingersnaps and a pungent, slightly distorted electric guitar tone, these songs’ long melodic lines roll stoically onwards. Sung in the Tamashek language, their song titles translate as, for example, “My Friends From All Over Africa” and “Regret Is Like A Worm”, enshrining traditional wisdom yet also gently inciting with their references to uprising and revolution. The album’s most disorientating moment, though, is its untitled coda, a slice of Enoesque ambience that sounds like a desert wind playing on amplified guitar strings.

As a pleasant aside, despite both sides of the vinyl version heaving under the load of more than thirty minutes of music, it actually sounds pretty good, not that music of this quality and quantity doesn’t deserve to be given more room to breathe, of course.