I just heard of their music as of late as I was checking up on what “TV on the Radio” was up to. It seems that Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone (both from TVotR) are featured in Tinariwen’s latest single, “Tenere Taqqim Tossam“. And now, here we are…

Tinariwen is a Tuareg group that performs in a Middle Eastern/African style similar to artists like Ali Farka Toure or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. All of the musicians originating from the southern Sahara, the group’s name, meaning “empty places,” is a reflection of their lands of origin. The band formed in the rebel camps of Colonel Ghadaffi, as each of the musicians had been forced from their nomadic lifestyle into involuntary military service. Surrounded by a displaced nation of their peers, Tinariwen forged a new style of music, trading their traditional lutes and shepherd’s flutes for electric guitars and drums. The style that resulted was dubbed Tishoumaren, “the music of the unemployed.” Their music addressed issues such as political awakening, problems of exile, repression of their people, and demands of sovereignty. In a region with no postal or telephone system, their tapes soon became a grassroots voice of rebellion and a rallying point for a disenfranchised nation. Though outlawed in Algeria and Mali, 2001’s The Radio Tisdas Sessions and 2004’s Amassakoul are available to Western audiences.
—Evan C. Gutierrez, Rovi

To those new to Tinariwen’s music (as I am), in addition to getting to know the records, below is a multi-part documentary filmed in 2007 on the group:

Part 1

Part 2

Last but not least, here are recent “Dessert Sessions” that they have filmed/documented with music from their latest album, “Tassili”.

If you would like to hear more, here’s a YouTube playlist for Tinariwen.