Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tinariwen: Amassakoul [World Village, 2004]
These Tuaregs never get loud. Their tempos are deliberate, their sonics indigenous; their percussion comprises a single derbouka drum and some handclaps, and their chants eschew showmanship. Not that they're above reaching out, or marketing--they consciously costume themselves as desert exotics. But rarely has such a compelling electric-guitar band offered less rock and roll release. Even when they're inventing Sahara rap their goal is contained self-sufficiency--a principled nostalgia for the community that has been wrested from them. A-