Imidiwan: Companions - Tinariwen

Outside Music

In the epic film, Lawrence Of Arabia, the protagonist is asked, "What is it about the desert, personally, that attracts you?" Peter O'Toole answers, "It's clean." l don't assume that means that your feet don't get dusty, rather that the desert is pure, an essential earth environment. In the vast, untapped wilderness of the Sahara, the Tuareg people have wandered, coaxing from it what will come and respecting what doesn't. Here too, as anywhere touched by humankind, music is abundant, and strangely, in this desolation so are the Fender Stratocaster and Vox amplifier, thanks to Tinariwen, revolutionaries who've traded guns for guitars and continue to defend their nomadic way of life through the North African blues and the Tamashek language. Imidiwan: Companions, their latest album is testament to their tenacity and adaptability. The band continues to capitalize on a global well-spring of fascination in their lifestyle and sound, and has even learned a few valuable marketing lessons. Most tracks on the new disc clock in at under 5 minutes, a nod to the time constraints of North American radio. The essence of their electro-acoustic blues has been further distilled and refined to even better reflect the stark clarity and sharp desert shadows. Many have attempted to follow their footsteps in the sand, among them, Toumast, Terakaft and Tartit , but this music belongs rightfully, soulfully and purely in the possession of Tinariwen.