Biography
T-N13zmThomasDorn

Photo by: Thomas Dorn

Until recent, Tinariwen was associated with just one image: that of Touareg rebels leading the charge, machine gun in hand and electric guitar slung over the shoulder. The band ditch this cliché on their fifth album Tassili and it’s for the best. The founding members abandoned their weapons long ago and on this new album they have engineered a minor aesthetic revolution by setting the electric guitar – the instrument which became their mascot and made them famous – to one side and giving pride of place to acoustic sounds, recorded right in the heart of the desert, which is the landscape of their existence, the cradle of their culture and the source of their inspiration. You might even call this radical move a return to the very essence of their art, a return which, paradoxically, has also opened the doors to some intriguing collaborations with members of TV On The Radio, Nels Cline (Wilco’s guitarist) or The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

There was a time when Bob Marley and the Wailers lived a certain paradox, albeit on a different scale, to the one that was to greet Tinariwen: that of singing about the distress of their people whilst becoming global stars in the process. For it was in the embers of this social trauma that Tinariwen caught fire and went global. The group became a professional unit that toured the world, headlining various important festivals including the Eurockéennes de Belfort in France, Glastonbury in the UK and Coachella in the US. Their albums Aman Iman (2007) and Imidiwan (2009) were eulogized by the media and attracted the praises of Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Thom Yorke, Brian Eno or Carlos Santana, with whom Tinariwen performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006.

In the natural open space in southern Algeria it was decided to approach the recording sessions in an unorthodox manner and let the musicians give their inspiration free rein during seemingly endless sessions around the campfire. It took three weeks to gather all the songs on Tassili. During the last week of recordings Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone from TV On The Radio arrived at the camp. The two bands had been forging links ever since they met at the Coachella Festival in California back in 2009, links which were consolidated at Tinariwen’s Hollywood Bowl gig in Los Angeles a year later when Kyp and Tunde were invited on stage with the band. The contributions of the two musicians on five songs and later additions by guitarist Nels Cline and the horns of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, recorded in their manor in New Orleans, give Tassili the intriguing character of an album which reaches deep into the essence of Tinariwen’s art whilst simultaneously opening itself out to the wider world.

Tassili isn’t just an extraordinary musical moment, in which Tinariwen repossess their own art to the extent that they feel completely relaxed about inviting others into their world, it’s also a shared human experience of rare quality.

Stream their latest album on NPR

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Tinariwen in the Press:

Tinariwen: Tiny Desk Concert (NPR)
Tinariwen: Spreading the Saharan blues wherever it roams (LA Times)
Despite longevity, Tinariwen still a mysterious wonder (Chicago Sun Times)
Review: Tinariwen at the Troc (Philly.com)
Tinariwen, Sophie Hunger (Chicago Reader)
Live: Tinariwen Get Down To Business At Webster Hall (The Village Voice)
Live Review: Tinariwen at Minneapolis’ Cedar Cultural Center (11/26) (Consequence of Sound)
Quick spin: ‘Tassili,’ by Tinariwen (The Washington Post)
Indie Rock Embraces an African Invasion (New York Times)
Tinariwen Live at KCRW on Morning Becomes Eclectic (KCRW)
Blues From the Desert, Recorded On-Site (New York Times)
First Listen: Tinariwen, ‘Tassili’ (NPR)

 US Tour Dates:

SXSW
3/14 - Anti- Records Showcase, Bungalow, 92 Rainey St (1 AM – 1:50 AM)
3/14 – Waterloo Records Showcase, 600A N Lamar Blvd (6 PM)
3/14 – globalFEST Showcase, Speakeasy, 412 Congress Ave (10 PM)
3/15 – KUTS Live, Four Seasons Hotel, 98 San Jacinto Blvd (11 AM)
3/15 – San Jose Hotel, 1316 South Congress Ave (10 PM)

18 MARCH 2014 – NASHVILLE (TN), US : THE HIGH WATT BUY TICKETS
19 MARCH 2014 – ATHENS (GA), US : GEORGIA THEATRE BUY TICKETS
20 MARCH 2014 – CARRBORO (NC), US : CAT’S CRADLE BUY TICKETS
21 MARCH 2014 – PHILADELPHIA (PA), US : PRINCE MUSIC THEATER BUY TICKETS
22 MARCH 2014 – WASHINGTON (DC), US : SIX & I HISTORIC SYNAGOGUE BUY TICKETS
23 MARCH 2014 – BROOKLYN (NY), US : BROOKLYN BOWL BUY TICKETS
25 MARCH 2014 – BOSTON (MA), US : PARADISE ROCK CLUB BUY TICKETS
26 MARCH 2014 – RIDGEFIELD (CT), US : THE RIDGEFIELD PLAYHOUSE BUY TICKETS
27 MARCH 2014 – NORTHAMPTON (MA), US : IRON HORSE MUSIC HALL BUY TICKETS
28 MARCH 2014 – PORTLAND (ME), US : MUSIC PORT CITY HALL BUY TICKETS
29 MARCH 2014 – BURLINGTON (VT), US : HIGHER GROUND BUY TICKETS

01 APRIL 2014 – PITTSBURGH (PA), US : THE WARHOL’S ENTRANCE SPACE BUY TICKETS
02 APRIL 2014 – KENT (OH), US : THE KENT STAGE BUY TICKETS
04 APRIL 2014 – NELSONVILLE (OH), US : STUART’S OPERA HOUSE BUY TICKETS
05 APRIL 2014 – CHICAGO (IL), US : CITY WINERY BUY TICKETS
06 APRIL 2014 – MINNEAPOLIS (MN), US : THE CEDAR CULTURAL CENTER BUY TICKETS
08 APRIL 2014 – MADISON (WI), US : THE MAJESTIC BUY TICKETS
09 APRIL 2014 – SAINT LOUIS (MO), US : OLD ROCK HOUSE BUY TICKETS
11 APRIL 2014 – DENVER (CO), US : BLUEBIRD THEATER BUY TICKETS
12 APRIL 2014 – SALT LAKE CITY (UT), US : THE STATE ROOM BUY TICKETS
14 APRIL 2014 – SEATTLE (WA), US : ILLSLEY BALL NORDSTROM RECITAL HALL
15 APRIL 2014 – PORTLAND (OR), US : ALADDIN THEATER BUY TICKETS
17 APRIL 2014 – LOS ANGELES (CA), US : THE BELASCO THEATER BUY TICKETS
18 APRIL 2014 – GRASS VALLEY (CA), US : THE CENTER FOR THE ARTS BUY TICKETS
19 APRIL 2014 – SAN FRANCISCO (CA), US : THE NOURSE THEATER BUY TICKETS
20 APRIL 2014 – PIONEERTOWN (CA), US : PAPPY & HARRIET’S BUY TICKETS
21 APRIL 2014 – PHOENIX (AZ), US : MIM MUSIC THEATER BUY TICKETS
22 APRIL 2014 – EL PRADO (NM), US : TAOS MESA BREWING BUY TICKETS
24 APRIL 2014 – NEW ORLEANS (LA), US : HOUSE OF BLUES BUY TICKETS