In the first Under The Radar I'm visiting world music, aka any music that didn't originate in western culture. I find the term world music such a crude tag used as a catchall for a huge variety of great music that often gets missed due to the general nature of its categorisation. I mean would you really lump flamenco hip hop such as Ojos De Brujo into the same category as Indian slide guitar master Debashish Bhattacharya or Cuban legends Buena Vista Social Club??
Anyway I digress, in my ongoing exploration of new music from around the globe I stumbled across Tinariwen about 18 months ago and immediately loved their unique approach to what is essentially Blues mixed with elements from their native Algeria and is often referred to as "Desert Blues".
Like other groups formed away from the influence of what we consider to be pop and rock, Tinariwen's unorthodox playing style has mutated their approach to the classic band instruments, such as electric guitar, bass and drum kit, and made it something quite unlike anything else.
A similar parallel can be seen in reggae music when away from rock'n'roll's guiding hand they ended up transforming the standard drum beat and putting the emphasis on the 3rd beat of every 4 instead of the alternate bass drum/snare pattern so common in mainstream music.
Tinariwen use their instruments to replicate the droning, monosyllabic chants of their home country, to protest and call for action against injustice or to spill their emotions much like the original blues musicians or punk bands such as The Clash or Billy Bragg.
While travelling in Morocco recently I listened to a lot of Tinariwen and although its not Algeria I really got the sense of where their approach to music came from. You can hear the moods of the desert climate and the hard graft in their songs without having to understand a word of arabic.
Go check them out now and let me know what you think. I'll have a new "Under The Radar" ready for you next week, enjoy!