Whenever you listen to Tinariwen, you feel at peace with everyone and everything. A splendid mix of steady beats and indie inspired guitar are combined with soft vocals in the latest release from Tinariwen entitled Elwan, which translates to mean ‘The Elephants’. This record is available on Vinyl Double LP, and CD.
Vinyl Double LP £22.31 WEDGELP00117
Heavyweight vinyl 2LP on Wedge. Features etching on Side-D.
CD £13.99 WEDGECD00117
Digipak CD on Wedge.
The story goes that Tinariwen “went electric”, as they say, after years of performing as an acoustic group at a host of ceremonies. Listening to their music, you can almost hear The Tuareg ensemble (at varying numbers a quintet and septet) showing off their precision and subtlety as a guitar band. The riffing, now electric, is clean, twanging and above all warm, always working against a crisp production job and the kind of instrumental energy that both compacts and celebrates: the non-stop handclaps and bold vocal harmonies that introduce this record on “Tiwàyyen” paint a picture of the large band crafting an expansive sound in a small closed circle, creating a sound both humble and huge.
They navigate “Sastanàqqàm” with much the same rocksteady approach, providing caustic distortion and then disappearing it in verses that largely rest on a hooking vocal line and a bouncing bassline -- slowly both parts bleed into each-other and the song hits a euphoric sweet spot. It’s tunes like these and the driving, riff-looped “Hayati”, that prove how exciting Tinariwen can sound at their steadiest and most rhythmically tight -- “Talyat”, a pacey acoustic arrangement, seems to confirm their place as a once-different band with the very same inclinations.
I’m drawn to the side of Tinariwen where space elapses between players, with “Ittus” centering an electric guitar solo piece around an emboldened, wide-open production. The guitarist twangs and reverberates in such a way that he never loses the listener to meandering. The warped, gulping and psychedelic riffs of “Nànnuflày” move curiously against the closer and more inviting vocals placed above it, creating a fascinating interplay of texture you might not have expected from the tracks before it. ‘Elwan’ can be a lovely and homely record at times, but so too can it create distances for you to wade through.
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- Elwan by Tinariwen
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