To get to the root of Tinariwen’s tale requires a history lesson that stretches back more than 30 years. Mysteriously started by a group of nomadic Saharan musicians, the band’s founding members were the first to bring guitars to Algerian refugees in the 1960s, and later the first to fuse indigenous Tuareg customs with American pop and rock. Today, the ever-changing Tinariwen lineup continues on, having recently released the band’s fourth album to date, Imidiwan: Companions. The record, driven by bluesy guitar riffs and exquisitely layered chants and vocals (all spoken in the band’s native Tamashek), is a testament to the long-held cliche that music is the universal language. Furious, percussion-fueled tracks like “Lulla” and “Intitlayaghen” transcend language barriers with their infectious beats, while winding, guitar-led orchestrations like “Tenhert” manage to blur the line between ’60s-influenced nostalgia and forward-thinking genius.


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