New Music: 'Tassili' by Tinariwen

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Photo by Marie Planeille

What: Tinariwen’s new album, Tassili, out next week on Anti- Records.

Who: The group is made up of Kel Tamasheqs, also known as Tuaregs, a group of Saharan nomads who revolted against France and Mali in the ’80s. On this album, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio), Nels Cline (Wilco), and horn players from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band all contributed to the recording.

Where: The band was originally formed in Libyan refugee camps in the early ’80s before the members returned to their homeland of Mali in the ’90s. To make the album, almost 900 pounds worth of music equipment (as well as the guest artists) were transported to the Algerian desert where it was recorded. Acoustic guitars and unamplified percussion were used to create the sound, which is bluesy and rife with rolling guitar riffs, vocals like mantras, drum-heavy percussion, and undeniable soul.

Why: The founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, witnessed the execution of his father, a Tuareg rebel as a child. Within the rebel community, Alhabib began to explore music as a form of protest, and eventually created Tinariwen, whose members made songs about Tuareg struggles with politics, cultural oppression, drought, and loss. According to The New York Times, Alhabib heard music by Bob Dylan and Bob Marley while in exile, which inspired him to mesh traditional African music with electric guitar.

When: Despite the unrest suffered by its creators, or perhaps because of it, this music is calming and rhythmic, yet at once energizing: perfect for finding some zen during the madness of your morning commute.

You’ll have to wait a while to hear them live, but trust me when I say it will be worth it. Catch Tinariwen on November 18 at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave., 617-562-8800, thedise.com.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/2011/08/25/ws-tinariwen-tassili/