Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow melting music: Etran Finatawa

Tuareg beauty
In a few hours I embark on a long flight northwards to a land buried in snow.  The internet tells me the temperatures in Washington D.C this weekend will struggle to hit the mid single Celsius digits. The President of the United States has apparently been forced to travel by road rather than risk the dodgy snow driven airspace. Air travel is once more disrupted. Blizzards are predicted across the East.

Here in Melbourne (Australia) tomorrow the temperatures will soar to 40 C/104 F.

To mark the occasion of my long journey into the frigid northern hemisphere I have selected some snow melting music from the landlocked west African country, Niger.  Etran Finatawa play that recently defined genre of music known as desert blues that bands like  Tinariwen and Group Doueh have brought to stages, festivals and clubs in Europe and North America in recent years. Made up of Tuareg  musicians who were politicised during the eternally unresolved desert wars of Mali, Niger and Libya that have flared up at regular intervals since the early part of the 20th century, Etran Finatawa (Stars of Tradition) came together in part to try to reconcile the Fulani and Tuareg peoples who depend on the oases on the fringes of the Sahara for survival.

Their mezmerising pile driving music which plays off traditional chants against undulating rhythms tapped out on gourds and percolating electric guitar riffs is immediately addictive.  One can easily imagine the band jamming as they list and roll across the sand ocean of the Sahara on the back of slow-stepping, cud-chewing dromedaries.

It is difficult to associate music tones with climatic conditions but in some magical way Etran Finatawa's music does 'feel' arid, dry and hot.  Just perfect for those of you up to your eyeballs in snow and ice!

   Track listing:
  1.    Aitimani
  2.    Diam Walla
   3.   Aitma
   4.   Ndiiren
   5.  Gourma
   6.  Daandé
   7.  Duuniyaaru Dillii
   8.  Imuzaran
   9. Ummee Ndaaren
 10. Kalamoujar

Listen here

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