From Mali: TINARIWEN
"Nurtured in exile, raised in conflict, Tinariwen are the kind of band that generations of western rebel rockers dream of being." - The Guardian
"The guitars, along with simple but perfect clapping and percussion,, rough male voices and ululating female ones, and the fierce, hypnotic quality of the traditional melodies combine into one of the most devastatingly mean and lowdown sounds to have come out of Africa." - Songlines
In his magnus opus Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, the great filmmaker conducts a forensic examination of the form, and proposes a thesis on its historical roots in exile and resistance, and its geographical antecedents in the peoples of West Africa. Now, out of the Sahara comes a group of musicians who validate the claim to devastating effect. Equally, Tinariwen's extraordinary story and deeply hypnotic music demonstrate they are no ordinary blues band.
Commonly referred to as Toureg, an Arabic term meaning abandoned by god, they are a product of the bitter insurgency that claimed many lives, and raged over three decades between the Malian government and the Kel Tamashek, the Berber nomads of the southern Sahara. Expelled from their traditional ranges in the 80's and forced into exile in Algeria and Libya, Tinariwen became the voice of a displaced people, assuming a dual role during the conflict; as guerrillas in the liberation for northern Mali and as troubadours documenting the conflict at clandestine touareg gatherings.
Out of this terrible history, a musical beauty was born. Guitars and amps assumed the role of the traditional touareg instruments, and combined with percussion, handclaps and a soaring female chorus to create a potent rhythmic base, brilliant in it simplicity. Over the top came the imposing voice of Tinariwen's leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabibe, gritty riffs emanating from his stratocaster, equal parts John Lee Hooker and Ali Farka Toure.
The Kel Tamashek, are sometimes called blue men, a reference to their turbans dyed with rich indigo, which often bleeds on to their faces. It's an arresting sight, a vivid representation of their rugged music and the unforgiving terrain that shapes it. Peace now prevails in the Sahara, but Tinariwen still sing of personal rebellion, in a place where the greatest challenge is life itself. Even in the desert, the flower of creativity still blooms.