Album: Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Companions

Surely one of the most unique and original ‘bands’ releasing music in the UK today, Tinariwen are a group of musicians out of Mali who came together in the 1970s to play traditional Touareg music. They formed around Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who spent his early life in a Malian refugee camp and made his first guitar as a young child after seeing a cowboy playing a guitar in a Western.

Imidiwan: Companions is the fourth album to be released in the UK, although Tinariwen have been actively performing around the world for 30 years, and in the last eight have given over 700 concerts. There are seven core musicians, playing guitars and basses as well as traditional Saharan instruments.

Imidiwan: Companions is upbeat and infectiously cheerful. Judging from this it is no wonder that they are one of the most respected and established world music artists in Britain today. The songs on the album have strong rhythmic movement and melodies which belie their far-reaching influences, from the Touareg and Tamashek to Jimi Hendrix, Boney M and Bob Dylan.

Highlights of the album include Lulla, a complex and multi-rhythmic track decorated with vocal and instrumental solos. The introduction to Tenhert clearly shows some of the band’s influences with it’s rock riff and strong percussion.

Imidiwan: Companions is a truly varied album which shows Tinariwen’s experience as performers as well as their originality.  This year they played both Glastonbury’s World and Pyramid stages, signifying their wide appeal. They will be touring the UK in October.  

Words: Alice Turner