Formed in 1979, Tinariwen have journeyed far and wide in recent years, expanding their audiences across five continents with hundreds of concerts honing their skills to a fine point. Hailing collectively from Adrar des Ifoghas, a Saharan mountain range that straddles the border between north-eastern Mali and southern Algeria, the band has throughout this time found themselves exiled from their home desert region due to increasing political instability. As a result of this, they are a musical phenomena of truly universal calibre.
In M’Hamid El Ghizlane – the oasis town in southern Morocco – Tinariwen are heroes for real. So much so that the youth of the area know how to sing their songs in the same way that people in other parts of the world know how to sing the Stones or Led Zep. It was there, in that oasis in southern Morocco, close by the Algerian frontier, that the band set up their tents for three weeks in March 2016 to record their eighth album, accompanied now and then by the local musical youth in question, or by a local Ganga outfit (a group of Berber ‘gnawa’ trance musicians). The resulting album is called Elwan (‘The Elephants’), also featuring collaborations with Mark Lanegan and Kurt Vile.