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Emmaar - ANTI-
FILTER Grade: 86%

By Marty Sartini Garner on February 11, 2014



Political instability drove Tinariwen from their home of Mali to the deserts of Joshua Tree to record the follow-up to 2011’s Grammy-winning Tassili. Emmaar finds the desert-blues group returning to the crackling electric sound that is their trademark, but here the implicit knowledge of conflict lingers like a fog. Droning electric guitars and tumbling hand-drums run against one another in gently dissonant counter-rhythm, while touches of funereal fiddle and well-spaced percussion create a quiet tension. Even when they’re at their brightest, as they are in the meandering march of “Emajer,” Tinariwen play it downbeat and reserved, as if their eyes and amps are directed halfway across the world. But that semi-stoic tone and the record’s austere, windswept production hardly make them sound disengaged—rather, this is the long, dark and patient blues in exile. 

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