Though Tinariwen's moniker translates to "deserts" in the Tamasheq tongue native to the band's members, there is nothing barren, arid or inhospitable about their music. Rather, the Malian troop's songs boast flowery, blooming vocals, drums that patter like fresh falling rain and guitar riffs that deeply unspool like roots in rich, soft soil.
Many of the songs on Tinariwen's new album, Elwan, also defy the uninitiated expectations of how a Saharan band should sound, evoking not scorching sand but instead subtle, slow burns. "Sastanàqqàm" is a prime example, thanks to its initial, softly clacking beat that sounds like a horse approaching from far off, followed by chanting before a guitar riff comes rushing in like spring water.
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