02 Iya Heniya
Ichichila: Original Desert Blues from Malian Tuareg
For the past forty years, the enigmatic Tuareg have been struggling for survival. They are menaced by state repression and by the natural catastrophe of constant drought. Yet thanks to their poetry, music and dance, the culture of this desert people lives on. The all-woman group Tartit — the name means "united" — comes from Mali. To hear their ballads and their compelling call-and-response songs is to be transported into the endless expanses of the Sahara. You can hear the flames crackling as you listen to the entrancing voices of these women and the sound of tehardent and imzad — ancient precursors of the guitar and the violin. In accordance with Tuareg tradition, only the women play the tindé drum. Its vibrant rhythms are complemented by two male instrumentalists on tehardent and guitar. The album, which was recorded using the highest quality mobile recording technology at the Centre Culturel Francais in Bamako, Mali, provides a fascinating survey of a music that seems both plaintive and joyous at one and the same time. These are truly desert blues. They come sweeping in with the sand and engulf you with all the brilliance of the desert sky at night — a phenomenon as unique as the ancient culture of the Tuareg. Apart from their international tours, some members of Tartit are actively involved in lobbying to improve the lot of Tuareg women, as they explain in the accompanying booklet. The text outlines the history and current situation of the Tuareg and presents some of the songs.