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on 18 September 2011
Once again the masters of the "call and respond"chant have come up trumps with a beautiful and enthralling album,more acoustic then previous albums this oozes class and distinction.
The promotion for this has been extensive,a free live album on download by a sunday newspaper,show the growing reputation of this band.
The music is less frantic than of late,and that is to its advantage,the more reflective lyrics seem to take in wider vistas,and the inclusion of other musicians bodes well.

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It is a worry that sometimes the term world music effectively shunts brilliant artists into a far to convenient "box" from which said artists struggle to escape. It is fortunate therefore that one of the best bands in the world today Tinariwen with their intoxicating mix of Touareg music and desert blues have gained such a massive foothold in modern music and can claim a huge worldwide audience. They are consumate musicians and in the two breakthrough albums which brought them to the attention of the music press namely Aman Iman - Water is Life and Imidiwan Companions they set out a new and revolutionary musical style which has drawn Western musicians like the proverbial moth to the flames not least Robert Plant and Santana. Here on their new album "Tassili" which is effectively Tinariwen "Unplugged" they have repeated this feat and attracted guest appearances from TV on the Radio's vocalist Tunde Adebimpe (who sings in English on "Tenere Taqqim Tossam") and Wilco guitar supremo Nels Cline fresh from his stint on Low's recent album.

That said Tinariwen have their own unique chops and their music continues to develop here in a more acoustic form with unamplified percussion and is none the worse for it although slightly less exuberant than previous albums. They also "mix it up" successfully at various points with the New Orleans based Dirty Dozen Brass Band not least on a key standout track "Ya Messinagh." Other highlights include the haunting vocals of Ibrahim Ag Alhabib on "Tameyawt" a gently spun desert lament, the funky Cline guitar lines on the great opener "Imidiwan Ma Tennam" and the deep blues of "Aden Osamnat".

Personally this reviewer does prefer the greater colour and verve of their electric work but Tinariwen are not standing still which is to be welcomed. "Tassili" then sees a band who continue to develop musically at every stage and have produced here one of their more intimate and often plaintive recordings which is sure to add further kudos to their already sparkling CV and become a treasured recording.
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on 8 September 2011
Given the unexpected rise of Tuareg desert blues into the Western rock sensibility, and the number of imitators whose own versions of the sound are knocking on the door of the mainstream (Tartit, Tamikrest, Terakaft, to name but three), Tinariwen's most predictable next move would have been to cash in on that unprecedented popularity by delivering a third helping of their two breakthrough albums. That they have not done so serves as a reassurance that there is more to Tinariwen than crossover success might have tempted them into.

Tassili flirts with the almost obligatory Western guest musicians in a Bringing-It-All-Back-Home style of taking the blues back to their putative origins. Wilco's Nels Cline lends unobtrusive guitar parts to 'Imidiwan Ma Tenam', but there are less than successful English vocals on 'Tenere Taqhim Tossam' from TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, which sound intrusive and alien. The addition of horns from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band on 'Ya Messinagh' is also of dubious benefit, but these reservations only serve to illustrate how well Tinariwen's sound stands up on its own merits without any Westernised interference.

In the main, this album returns Tinariwen to its desert roots; campfire songs about love and life, without the now familiar hypnotic sawing electric guitar grooves. While this may appear to be a sharp left turn, it is in fact the most obvious next step for the band, and the quality of the unplugged songs shows just what a class act they are. The grooves are still there, just as infectious, but subtler and gentler. Unlike others, Tinariwen have opted to remain close to their roots, and although the rise of Al Qaeda in their home villages has prompted a move into Algeria for the recording of Tassili, the conflict at the heart of that move is not reflected in the softer sounds of the music within. So many 'World Music' acts become seduced by the power of Western approbation that the reasons for their original appeal becomes smothered by the influence of American and European producers with a desire to demonstrate their ethnic credibility through a heavy-handed crossover agenda. Tinariwen have resisted that temptation so far; one suspects that they will continue to do so. Let's hope they do, for much of Tassili is as close as it gets to some of the best music around, in anyone's world.
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on 30 August 2011
Over the past couple of decades, a number of West African artists have taken advantage of a new international interest in "world" music to gain attention beyond their own countries. Yet while one can imagine the likes of Vieux Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté feeling equally at home in Paris or London as Bamako these days, there's still something wild and untamed about Tinariwen that sets them apart from their fellow Malians.
As a nation straddling the divide between the vast wilderness of the Sahara desert and the greener savannah to the south, Mali is also a meeting point of several disparate cultures.
As nomadic Tuaregs, the music of Tinariwen varies greatly from those performers from more settled village traditions such as Touré and Diabaté.
Their name actually translates as 'deserts' and while they may use electric guitars and other modern instruments, the core of their sound is still as raw and elemental as the harsh landscape inhabited by their ancestors since time immemorial, and their songs speak passionately about the issues their stateless people continue to face.
Many of their older members were rebel fighters and refugees during a period of armed conflict with the Malian government, giving them a slightly different type of life experience to say, Coldplay.
Founded as far back as 1979 but not 'discovered' by French world music ensemble Lo'Jo until 1998, Tinariwen's two most recent albums - 2007's Aman Iman and Imidiwan - Companions two years later - consolidated their status as a major crossover act, culminating in a Glastonbury appearance in 2009. Recorded in the depths of the Algerian desert, "Tassili" is something of a back to basics album for the freewheeling collective after their years of global jet setting, but it also sees them take a further step forward by adding some new ingredients to their tried and tested formula.
As the first notes of Imidiwan Ma Tenam bleed forth from the speakers, the initial impression is that not much has changed.
Traditional Tuareg melodies are chanted atmospherically over a backdrop of freeform guitar and rhythmic handclaps, with some subtle drumming underpinning the campfire groove.
But weaving his way almost imperceptibly into the mix is Wilco lead guitarist Nels Cline, who was also involved in Tassili's post-production.
The western influence is more obvious but no less complementary on the sublime, funky "Tenere Taqqim Tossam", featuring the English vocals of TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe. It's perhaps not surprising that the front man of this most eclectic of US bands is collaborating with world musicians, but what's commendable is the way he restrains his often soaring voice to make sure it fits unobtrusively into Tinariwens distinctive sonic world.
Next track "Ya Messinagh" sees the first appearance of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the most respected exponents of the famous New Orleans style. It's hard to think of two more different musical styles, yet the Band's maudlin, sonorous timbre adds a rich new texture to Tinariwen's songs of longing and defiance.
Above all, the stars of "Tassili" are Tinariwen themselves. Noticeably more acoustic than on their earlier records, we get to witness the fragile beauty that exists in their music alongside the visceral, bluesy drive.
"Walla Illa" is a wonderfully lilting, soothing lullaby, with Adebimpe providing softly cooing backing vocals, while the complex solo guitar work on "Tameyawt" demonstrates that these are musicians with the dexterity and flair to match the best anywhere.
The contributions of an impressive guest list only serve to further enhance this compelling music, which remains uniquely imbued with the spirit of the environment that shaped it. C. White
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on 23 June 2015
Magical Saharan grigiot grooves.
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VINE VOICEon 14 February 2012
... Tinariwen have found a way to build on what's gone before and produce something utterly brilliant.

With this album they have managed something which many bands mishandle - how to develop and add one or two new sounds without becoming 'poppy' or 'selling out' their sound.

This record in some senses goes back to the stripped down sound of 'Radio Tisdas' but takes it further in having many more acoustic instruments.

The female backing singers are absent from this record, though that's appropriate for this most laid-back of offerings, which has superb tunes and arrangements from start to finish.

I could go on (and on...) but the other reviewers here have done a great job, just wanted to add another five stars and say, and not for the first time in the case of this band: you MUST buy this record...
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on 30 September 2011
Tinariwen's new album is everything l hoped it would be and more ; don't take my word 4 it open yer ears and broaden your horizens musically. Oh yes Amazon where their usual self, basically it's all good.
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on 5 September 2011
I enjoy most music from this continent, having been their and soaked up its variety of music. This is really very good and well worth a listen.
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