From the album 'Imidiwan : Companions'
Imidiwan: Companions, is the band's fourth CD release and it possesses all the elements that have made them so magnetic to western ears: raw simplicity, melodic beauty, songs ranging from the epic and universal to the intimate and personal.
The album opens with Imidiwan Afrik Tendam, a kind of hymn to the band's friends,
companions and fellow-travellers, who have suffered and triumphed with Tinariwen on their epic journey. The legendary poet Japonais makes a scintillating rootsy contribution with the song Tamodjerazt Assis which broils with a sense of pain and regret. Intidao, a regular touring member of the band, makes his CD debut as composer and lead singer on the song Imazaghen N' Adagh. And Ibrahim sings one of the most famous Tinariwen songs ever, Chegret, in which he asks his fellow Touareg some hard questions about the desert and its problems.
The thirty-year musical and social history of Tinariwen is a fascinating and inspiring tale. Initially a loose collection of displaced Touareg musicians centred around Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who, although born in Mali, grew up in the refugee camps near the Malian border in Algeria and later around the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset following the suppression of the Touareg people by the new independent Malian government in the early 1960’s.
Coming together in the late 1970’s with a shared passion for everything from traditional Touareg music & poetry to western rock and pop artists such as Hendrix, Santana, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin, the collective steadily built their reputation in and around the Sahara desert.
Following spells as part of a ‘desert army’ put together by Ghadaffi and later the MPA (Mouvement Populaire de l’Azawad – a rebel Touareg movement) during which other like minded musicians became involved, the group headed back to Tessalit in Mali in the late 1980’s.
Continuing to perform, by the end of the 1990’s Tinariwen’s reputation had begun to spread beyond their Saharan stronghold – in 1999 the band played a few gigs in France and in 2001 they played at the first ‘Festival in the Desert’ in Mali where they were heralded as the stars of the show and arguably, at this point, set out on the path that would see them celebrated in Europe as one of the most instantly recognizable and loved bands from Africa.
Success came swiftly after this point - by the end of 2001 the band had performed at WOMAD and the South Bank in London and released their ‘debut’ album The Radio Tisdas Sessions, a much feted record that effortlessly crossed over to those with previous little interest in African music courtesy of its guitar licks, grimy desert sound, arcane rhythms and wild rebel iconography.
In the past eight years the band have continued their steady ascent playing over 700 concerts in Europe as well as releasing a further two albums, Amassakoul in 2004 and Aman Iman in 2007. Along the way they have picked up a number of awards (BBC Award for World Music in 2005 and the prestigious Praetorius Music Prize in Germany in 2008) and a raft of ‘legendary’ fans including the likes of Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, Brian Eno, Thom Yorke, TV on the Radio and Bono & the Edge.