This nomadic album, recorded in a natural setting, is as close as you can get to Tinariwen. And also, therefore, to the idea that things can evolve: bassist Eyadou plays a lot of acoustic guitar; percussionist Said tries his hand at new instruments; Abdallah exhumes songs that he’s never played on stage with Tinariwen. And that violin that appears on several songs and reminds you of the traditional imzad? It’s actually played by Warren Ellis. The violinist in Nick Cave’s band is one of several western guests on the album. We also hear the mandolin and charango of Micah Nelson (son of the country music giant Willie Nelson, and Neil Young’s guitarist), and the guitars of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O)))), Cass McCombs and Rodolphe Burger. The album is mixed by Jack White’s buddy Joshua Vance Smith.
In the end, Amadjar tells the story of several journeys: the one undertaken to prepare the album, and the one that Tinariwen take between two worlds, theirs and ours, with that constant need to pass from one to the other before coming back to the roots. “I’m in a complete solitude, where thoughts frighten me, and lost in their midst I arose and noticed that I was thirsty and wanted water,” sings Ibrahim on ‘Ténéré Maloulat’, the first song on the album. A return to the source of Tamashek poetry. In the middle of other more political songs, through always desolate, these words express deep distress and survival, but also movement. Amadjar means ‘the unknown visitor’ in Tamashek, the one who seeks hospitality and who’s condemned to an inner exile, within a territory or within himself; just like the members of Tinariwen, who feel at home on the journey, around the fire with a few immutable songs. The best Tinariwen album will never be. But Amadjar is more essential than all the others.