. issue IX : i .
Tinariwen is the quintessential desert blues band. Their music started as the bush telegraph of the Kel Tamashek (Tuareg) rebellion, using cassettes to spread news of the independence movement throughout the Sahara. Their new recording (and fifth first-world release) was made outdoors in south Algeria, not far from where leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib formed his first band in the late 70’s. It’s kind of the Tinariwen “unplugged” album (for this rebel/musician collective, “unarmed” might be a better label) — it’s light on electricity, long on a quieter guitar sound and slower in tempo than their hard-rocking previous three albums, hearkening back to their first-world debut, 2000’s The Radio Tisdas Sessions. What’s new here are the collaborations (via overdub) of a few of their fans and admirers — TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adibimpe and Kyp Malone, Nels Cline of Wilco, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, all of whose contributions are sensitive and add to the session’s ambiance. This is an excellent and subtly different sound for the band — Tinariwen around the nighttime campfire under a huge starry sky, long after the generators have been silenced.