It makes sense that Emmaar was created in the spiritual home of American psychedelia. This is transportative music, an electric blues trip through Tinariwen’s sand-blasted world of long-form Tamashek jams. The songs all drift into one another, but that’s their greatest appeal: They’re all variations on a theme, a single tone that rises and falls. Moments of calm—"Sendad Eghlalan," for instance—leave you drifting off into the ether before everything ramps back up on wig-outs such as "Imdiwanin ahi Tifhamam."
Though guest appearances by fiddle player Fats Caplin and Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer break the spell a little, Emmaar is never less than hypnotic and entrancing. Tinariwen have crafted a beautiful paean to the desert, an audio homage to dry heat—even if the desert this time was 7,000 miles away from home. Just one sticking point, then: the spoken word intro that begins the album. Don’t whisper at me, bro—that’s creepy. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutChicago.