Moore:Music ®

Witch Cross • BC Sweet • Gonads • Christie

Tinariwen – the magic of the desert

Now THATS what I call a roadie......

I just got back from a wonderful trip to Morocco. The sights, sounds and smells of a country  a mere hour away on the plane, so fundamentally different from our own, truly provides one with a culture shock so profound, that it stays with you for most of the trip. You never really get used to it, nor do you want to. It is its difference from the norm, its implied exoticism. that appeals. Our first port of call, literally, was the fishing town of Essaouira. This has long been a favourite stomping ground for musicians, Jimi Hendrix had a house 25k down the coast in Sidi Kaouki, now a haven for windsurfers. I wonder if the wind that whips across the beautiful beach there cries Mary?

Essaouria is to be found at the end of a gleaming new four lane highway that cuts across the desert from Marrakesh, but the predominant mode of transport we encountered was the donkey! We were booked into a Riad in the middle of the Medina, the walled ‘city within a city’ that is a wonderful maze of streets and alleyways with wall to wall shops, cafes and stalls.  We had a great time here, and I’ll write more about that elsewhere, but this site is dedicated to music.

We ate out at a restaurant in the Medina to the sound of local Gwana musicians playing and dancing – quite spectacularly – in a confined space, and whilst it was interesting, and clearly proficient, it didn’t move me beyond the pleasure of seeing traditional music performed in a traditional setting. But one afternoon, walking through the narrow streets, we passed a music stall, and the most amazing groove assaulted our ears. It literally stopped us in our tracks. That was the moment we became fans of Tinariwen.

I asked the guy at the stall who it was, and he produced the album Aman Iman, their third, and it became the constant soundtrack to the rest of our trip. Its fabulous grooves, hypnotic singing and clever weaving of electric guitars in, around and between the traditional instruments.

With further research, I discovered these guys have been around for some years, originating in Mali, and with a fascinating background as Tuareg freedom fighters. These were truly proper rock’n’roll rebels!  Their leader, Ibrahim, has the potential to be a modern day Bob Marley, but that really does him and his compatriots a disservice. They have become a rallying point for the salvation of an entire culture, and I think it is that single achievement that sits them head and shoulders above most ‘social conscience’ bands. It seems that a number of famous musicians now carry a torch for them, Robert Plant and Carlos Santana amongst them, and it’s plain to see why. I’ve never really been a huge fan of World music, but there’s something about Tinariwen that speaks to your soul. Needless to say, I now have all four albums. Check them out, they are truly unique.


Kev Moore

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Video, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments