Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Songs for Desert Refugees [Glitterhouse, 2012]
All proceeds from this charity comp go to two NGOs serving a war zone created in part by the Tuaregs whose music it puts to use--music more humane by definition than Tuareg nationalism, but just as fierce in its cultural pride. Since that music can seem as unvaried as one of the desert vistas the Tuaregs see in a detail we can't, the multi-artist format provides easeful marginal differentiation rather than jarring stylistic disparity. As with 2005's Rough Guide to the Sahara, the 12 tracks, most previously unreleased and all postdating that prophetic piece of genre-making, progress like a single expression toward the showy new jack guitars of Tadalat and Bombino and the overdue female voices of Toumast and Tamikrest. A-