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Etran Finatawa


Niger's Etran Finatawa ("stars of the tradition") are actually anything but traditional: they overthrow cultural barriers by joining the forces of two very separate (and sometimes warring) nomadic groups: the Wodabe and Touareg. Inspired by Tinariwen's political desert blues, the band formed in part to protest the discrimination both ethnic groups face -- and also to cash in on the growing fascination with desert music. But what counts here is the music: an entrancing melange of Wodabe and Touareg traditional songs dominated by the same hypnotic, rolling desert blues that makes Tinariwen so inviting. But Etran Finatawa one-ups the Malian band, giving phenomenal renderings of traditional ceremonial healing songs and showcasing traditional instruments like the water-filled calabash.

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