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Tinariwen: Elwan

With Tinariwen and several other groups, rock has made its way to northeastern Mali/southern Algeria as the beat of Tuareg liberation and yearning, of nomads unhappy about the loss of their beloved homeland Ténéré, which spans parts of the two countries. Their latest album Elwan, which translates to “The Elephants” (on L.A. label Anti-), is proof that Tinariwen and other Tuareg bands are making some of the best rock being produced today.

Fake Music For Fake Times

America is a fake country. As a political state, its beginnings were multicultural, multi-lingual, and built on an economic foundation of feudal exploitation via slavery and indentured servitude. Perhaps that explains the virulence of the idea that Americans are, and have always been, white English speakers who worship a (Protestant) Christian God and have earned everything they have.

Playlist for Prefab Houses: YouTube and the Revitalization of Japanese Ambient Music

Liz Pelly’s recent article for The Baffler, “The Problem with Muzak,” bemoans music journalism’s embrace of Spotify. Algorithmically fueled, mood-based playlists such as “Ambient Chill,” she argues, are nothing more than “emotional wallpaper” for the distracted, disengaged masses.


One of the recent highlights of the new year for me was a trio set by Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, and a new name for me, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. I’ve been told that Akinmusire is an important rising star. I found nothing unique about his playing but felt he excelled in the set. As they all did.

Highly Selective Listings

March Listings

March Selections

Out of Time

The joke is right there: it’s ambient music, in a church!


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues