Whether or not the blues really originated in Mali or thereabouts, the style sounded right at home there on 2002's "The Radio Tisdas Sessions,'' the first album by Tinariwen. These seven musicians are members of the nomadic Tuareg tribe, who battled Mali's central government for two decades, and some of the songs on their new "Amassakoul'' address despair and rage: "Nobody cares about the people of the desert,'' laments the chanted "Arawan,'' while "Chatma'' urges women that "we must assemble and fight.''
The war is over, however, and Tinariwen records in Bamako, Mali's capital. Settling down may not have calmed the band members' hearts, but it has at least given them a place to plug in their guitars. "Amassakoul'' adds several new timbres to the group's repertoire, the most dynamic of which is the slipping and sliding of as many as four interlocked electric guitars. Add hand claps and call-and-response vocals, and such tunes as "Oualahila Ar Tesninam'' become the sort of loose, communal yet urgent blues-rock that so many '70s British and American bands attempted (usually with limited success). The album also includes more traditional drones and folk-style tunes, but another Tuareg troupe, Ensemble Tartit, has that stuff covered. It's Tinariwen's distinctive style of rollicking guitar-driven music that makes "Amassakoul'' irresistible.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Saturday at Lisner Auditorium. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Tinariwen, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8109. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)