Songlines Music Awards Winner

Best Group: Tinariwen

Album: Tassili (V2)


The Touareg group Tinariwen have been bringing their electrified desert blues to international audiences for more than a decade, as Andy Morgan explained in #79. They have won fans amongst people not normally interested in African music, played over 800 concerts around the world and inspired a flock of other Saharan bands. And suddenly their sinewy music of resistance seems even more resonant as the Touareg uprising has reared up again and declared an independent territory - Azawad - in the north of Mali.


artist photo © Marie Planeille

Released last year, their fifth album takes its name, Tassili, from the spectacular region in southern Algeria where they recorded it, as the situation in Mali was too precarious. They've largely laid down the electric guitars and picked up acoustic instruments for a mellower sound, but keeping the growly vocals and sandy grit of the long campfire recording sessions. Amongst the guests are vocalist Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist Kyp Malone from the New York band TV on the Radio, who went out to Tassili to join the sessions.

The Songlines Music Award isn't the first prize that Tassili has won - it won a Grammy in February. While politically there are going to be troubles ahead for the Touareg, musically Tinariwen have much to celebrate.