Songs For Desert Refugees
, November 6th, 2012 12:58
Since Tinariwen broke through to western ears just over a decade ago during a more peaceful time in their Malian homeland, Saharan rebel rockers have become known for their electrictrifying music rather than the hitherto cliché of a 'guns and guitars' image. However, recent events in Mali are threatening the existence of the world famous Grammy winning superstars of African music along with many other emerging groups from the region, including Tamikrest and Bombino, who also feature on Songs For Desert Refugees.In the north a "long-simmering Touareg rebellion has broken out into a full-fledged independence movement that's overtaken much of the region," the National Geographic reported in AprilM. "While in the capital, Bamako, renegade soldiers under the command of Captain Amadou Sanogo have staged a coup d'etat against the government of President Amadou Toumani Touré in late March, just a few weeks before democratic elections were scheduled to be held." Touré was forced to stand down on 23rd March, leaving the civilian population fearful and the economy depressed. This compilation has been released to provide support to those who have fled to refugee camps across the borders in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria. Two of the desert rock movement's most internationally known stars, Tinariwen and Tamikrest, open Songs For Desert Refugees with comfortably familiar sounding unreleased tracks, while for many on this exceptional disc it is a chance to showcase their sounds to a wider audience. And fans of Touareg rock's leading lights will find plenty more to discover, from the relatively well known Tartit, Toumast and Terakaft to Amanar, youngsters Tadalat, Ibrahim Ojo Experience (featuring musicians from France), Nabil Baly Othmani (whose 'Teswa Ténéré' was recorded live in the desert), Etran Finatawa and Faris (an Ital-Algerian who performs with Terakaft). It's different, but similar, sweeping up swirls of sandy repetitious grooves. It is clear that Tinariwen have been a huge influence as others create their own fresh take on the formula of their elder brothers. The artists and groups featured mostly hail from Mali, also Algeria and Niger. Agadez prodigy Bombino's live track 'Tigrawahi Tikma' clocks in at 13-plus minutes and is really allowed to stretch out. And the closer from Tartit, 'Tihou Beyatene' offers another side to desert workouts, with a female singer over a chanted and clapped percussive backdrop.
The Quietus' review of most recent Tinariwen album Tassili said it included "protest songs written by people who have everything at stake in an uncertain world, as the result of ongoing conflicts could threaten the very existence of the restless Touareg people. In times like these Tinariwen's message is as relevant as ever." Now, more than ever. Other efforts by artists to support the people who have been displaced by the conflict include Khaira Arby, Vieux Farka Touré and more who have released a track calling for peace in Mali.Proceeds from the sale of the Songs For Desert Refugees CD are to be distributed between refugee charities Toumadré and Etar, donations can also be sent via this website. The album also serves as a great primer for this most vibrant of current guitar-based musical scenes, as one of the world's richest traditions of spoken word and song comes under threat.