The cosmic, roiling Afro-Arabic groove this North African guitar band generates is like a sandstorm: not something one controls so much as learns to navigate. The outsiders on this acoustic-leaning LP – members of TV on the Radio, Wilco and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band – get this. On “Imidiwan Ma Tenam,” Nels Cline stokes a distant bonfire of electric-guitar noise; on “Walla Illa,” Tunde Adebimpe adds ooh-oohs amid hypnotic fingerpicking. Gentler than Tinariwen’s more electric output, the music draws power from the guests. And in light of the current violence in their Tuareg homeland, the hush only deepens the blues.
Listen to “Tassili” preview: