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The term desert blues has become useful shorthand for those Touareg guitar bands from the Sahara whose music is stripped down and bare. While it's certainly a catch-all phrase, it picks up on the similarities between the bands -- which are largely cultural -- while not allowing for their differences. Tamikrest, the youngest of the genre, also rock the hardest, with heavier bass and more oomph in their sound. In part that's due to using a producer whose life has been spent in rock bands (Chris Eckman of the Walkabouts and Dirtmusic), but it also reflects the ethos of the bandmembers themselves. And it's certainly not all blues-like (the real similarity is in the fact they use electric guitars and a pentatonic scale). You'd be hard-pressed to discover any blues in the beautiful space of "Dihad Tedoun Itran," while "Nak Akaline Tinza (Tinzaouatene)" is eerily like the Velvet Underground. The guitar work creates moods and shades that echo the distances of the desert, while the pace is that of the camel, never hurried. They might not be a rock & roll band (and why should they want to be?), but there's definitely a rock band that's part of Tamikrest on this second album.

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