The world of Tinariwen is one of devotional ecstasy living as errantly as western touring musicians, but subsisting only on their dedication is to their craftsmanship, their art, the group is a truly nomadic. Imidiwan is a diverse and ever-developing album, music that is itself on a journey – it’s neatly synopsized by an early-on one-two punch. “Tenhert” twirls in a rapturous, bluesy drone with a riff that snakes its way around your brain, giving these companions, collaborators, a maze in which to march forward. The songs feel primitive, but are modern in arrangement and delivery, with chanted lyrics often feeling more like straight rap. The paradox of itinerant, turbaned musicians hauling Fender amps from a Jeep to play at the next campsite quickly becomes one you gladly accept. “Enseqi Ehad Didagh,” likewise, is a hypnotic, narcotic group hallucination, a loping leaving of the oasis to get back in thrall of the heat of the desert.
While there are exotic and ethnic signposts throughout that signal Tinariwen as “other”, the central motifs are familiar – bluesy, woeful tones; upbeat, ecstatic ravers. “Intitlayaghen” is a celebratory romp on acoustic guitars, while “Kel Tamashek” could be mistaken for a Fahey outtake, if he had mistaken Africa for Alabama. More accessible, and far less precious (in presentation, not content) than the Subliminal Sounds comps, Imidiwan exudes a joyous noise that is redolent of western musicality but stridently blares of its own genesis. The gorgeous DVD included is beautifully shot, with gripping live footage. Seen after giving the album a few spins, it plays with explanatory, revelatory vicariousness that makes you want to drop everything and hop on the caravan.