Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Coachella preview: Tinariwen

April 13, 2009 | 11:26 am


Pop & Hiss will be covering the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., from April 17 to 19. There are more than 120 acts on the bill, and in the days leading up to the festival, we'll be selecting some of the best bets -- some on the radar, some flying below.

Who: Tinariwen

Why this African ensemble is your ticket to the real desert vibe: Let's face it. Coachella doesn't really feel like the desert. With green grass underfoot and giant beverages a mere five-to-10 bucks away, the fest is really more of a resort experience. Tinariwen's music, however, is made of dirty wind and hallucinatory heat. For two decades, the group has represented for the "ishumaren" -- itinerant Tuareg people of the Sahara who've encountered modernity as mercenaries, political rebels and reluctant city dwellers hearing rock on the radio that reminded them of the native music of the sands.

Now a world-music institution, Tinariwen is renowned for its trance-inducing live sets, featuring great ensemble playing and the serene shredding of the band's leader, Ibrahim Ag Al Habib.

"Cler Achel" -- Tinariwen

-- Ann Powers

Photo credit: Thomas Dorn