Tinariwen :: Radio Tisdas/Amassakoul Influences (Mixtape)

It’s been 20 years since the world was introduced to Tinariwen, but their roots stretch back much farther. In the late 1970s, nomadic founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib began travelling through towns and refugee camps in the Saharan desert, picking up fellow musicians along the way. The group’s first commercially released album – The Radio Tisdas Sessions – would not arrive until 2001. Despite the fact that it was recorded at a solar-powered radio station with the electricity repeatedly cutting out, this collection of songs is an ideal introduction to their sound. Tinariwen’s fusion of West African traditional music, mesmerizing guitar solos, and mournful call-and-response vocals would later be dubbed “desert blues.”

A pair of remastered reissues of The Radio Tisdas Sessions and its 2004 followup, Amassakoul, showcase the band’s evolution during these years. Returning to Mali after a series of tours brought them to international audiences, Tinariwen’s sophomore LP features a new cast of musicians with four out of six fresh recruits. Several songs introduce previously unheard elements such as vocal drones (“Assoul”) and rapping in the Tamashek dialect spoken by nomadic Tuareg tribes (“Arawan”). Before they took the world by storm, welcoming Western ears to an entire musical movement, Tinariwen took giant steps here. 

In celebration of the forthcoming deluxe reissues, here’s a mix compiled by Said Ag Ayad of Tinariwen. It features different musical styles—West African, Sahelian, Arabic—and gives a glimpse of the band’s influences. | j Locke

Alla Elbechari – La légende d’Oud
Dimi Mint Abba – Zlika
Japonais – Zinusjumer
Ali Farka Touré – Tounguere (Heineken Concert 98)
Tenere Festival – Abba Amidinine
Tinariwen ft. Sadam from Imarhan – Tiwayyèn
Hamid Ekawel – Mahi Igdalan Amerdeless
Lalla Badi – Idi Yan Ido Ana

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