Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tinariwen - Aman Iman

The phrase "Aman Iman", in the Tamashek language of the Tuareg nomads of the Sahara, means "Water is the soul", or "Water is life", and is often followed by "ach isoudar", meaning "and milk is survival". As such, it's an apt title for this latest album by Tinariwen, reflecting both the Tuareg's ongoing struggle for survival in one of the harshest environments, and the need for more nourishing fare - both physically and intellectually - required to survive in the wider world.

Until Tinariwen were discovered a few years ago and started touring outside Africa, it was rare for any Tuareg to travel outside theirhomeland; and their isolation and lack of education served them poorly during the long dispute with the Malian government, an almost secret war that has gone largely unreported. Tinariwen formed in the rebel training camps of Algeria and Libya in the early 1980s, whence they had fled following the government's crushing of a 1963 insurrection in which the parents of several members, including those of charismatic frontman Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, were brutally slain. Several songs here date from that era, notably Ibrahim's lament "Soixante Trois" and Alhassane Ag Touhami's "Tamatant Tilay", a 1983 war cry urging the Tuareg into battle.
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