When: Fri., Nov. 25, 9 p.m. 2011
Tassili (Anti-), the latest from Tuareg band Tinariwen, has been consistently described as a back-to-basics album, and in fact it was recorded in a tent in a remote area of the Algerian desert using acoustic guitars rather than electrics—which is sorta how the band got started back in 80s, except then they were in a refugee camp. The performances on Tassili are profoundly more sophisticated and satisfying than the group's earliest commercial recordings, though: gorgeous guitar patterns and clip-clopping percussion cycle through one another in a hypnotic lattice beneath the clenched incantations of Ibrahim Ag Alhabib. Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio add subtle vocal harmonies on a few songs, Nels Cline contributes atmospheric textures to the opening track, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band drops elegant long tones on another—and best of all, these flourishes enhance Tinariwen's sound without drawing attention away from the band.
Even keeping in mind that her self-titled U.S. debut, released earlier this year on Manimal Vinyl, collects material from her first two European albums, Swiss singer Sophie Hunger jumps all over the place in her music. She sings in English, French, and German, and from moment to moment her full-bodied voice might recall any of several strong female singers, among them Polly Jean Harvey, Laura Marling, and Emiliana Torrini. Her songs range from delicate folk-rock to hard-driving postpunk (and "The Boat Is Full" sounds like something Radiohead might have done 20 years ago), and on "Sophie Hunger Blues" she audaciously hijacks the melody and structure of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Free No. 10." Hunger's mishmash of ideas and influences can make her sound like she's just trying to hit as many checkpoints as possible, which takes a little of the fun out of the trip, but she's so skilled and assured that she's bound to grow into an identity she can wear more naturally. —Peter Margasak Tinariwen headlines.
Price: $29, $26 in advance