Formed under the scorching sun of the Nigerien Ténéré, Etran Finatawa returns with a third album entitled Tarkat Tajje / Let ‘s Go. The group is famous for its unique blend of Wodaabe and Touareg traditions and it once again respects the recipe that made the success of their previous albums. Get ready for an adventure amongst the hypnotic rhythms of the Sahara. Ready? Let’s go!
The Sahara region has recently become synonymous of great cultural richness. The main reason lies undoubtedly in the popularity of the Touareg music and most notably in Tinariwen’s success.
If the Touaregs attract big crowds throughout the whole world, their Wodaabe neighbours do not share the same fame. Their culture is far from a poor one nonetheless. These nomads are renowned for their natural and artistic beauty, which is felt within the music of Etran Finatawa.
Etran Finatawa is one of the few in the music world to combine the two legacies, and it is no coincidence that the very name of the group means “stars of traditions”. The Wodaabes, recognizable with their original face paints, bring a touch of intoxicating rhythms and atypical-sounding vocals, which propel the Touareg influences to a whole new level.
The first tindé beats of “Aitimani” takes the listener to the starting blocks right from the beginning. For over an hour, the group delivers ten songs, most of which are built around repetitive percussions and guitar melodies in the tradition of the Saharan blues sound. A dash of classic influences appears on “Daande” while “Kalamoujar” ends the album in a peaceful atmosphere reminiscent of a campfire under the starry desert night sky. Only the diversity that had made the charm of the two predecessors, Introducing and Desert Crossroads, is dearly missed.
Through shrewd words, Tarkat Tajje also acts as a political pamphlet. “Aitma” (brother) calls to look beyond our differences and focus on what we have in common as humans. From start to finish, Etran Finatawa praises all those who fight for noble causes, while mentioning the hard living conditions in the desert, as in “Walla Diam” (no water).
When it comes to Saharan music, the comparisons with Tinariwen are usually all over. However, Etran Finatawa offers a personal sound that has always distinguished them from other artists of the region. With this new album, the group confirms its specificity but fails to give the same satisfaction it did with its earlier work. Tarkat Tajje still deserves its place amongst the lovers of the genre
The recording session: