While there's reason to rage against the media saturation inherent in the Internet (e.g., too many chill/witch/triangle clone bands uploading from their bedrooms), you have to celebrate the World Wide Web for the incomparable access it grants to musical worlds previously impossible to connect with. One example is the delicately intricate, cryptically soulful desert blues of Tinariwen, a nomadic collective of ex-Tuareg rebels that has traveled the cracked, dry land of North Africa for more than 25 years.
Founded in 1980 by a collective of Malian revolutionaries (who met in Libya under similarly rebellious circumstances), the group channelled its passion into a politicized blend of West African assouf-style guitar, the gang vocals of northern Algerian Berber music, and American-blues cadence via Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin, not to mention other Western styles, such as the deep-fried Latin-rock riffage of Carlos Santana and the political riddims of Bob Marley.
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The band's latest full-length, Tassili, marks a pronounced shift in its songwriting. The album is the group's first entirely acoustic affair — plus the collective has opened its doors to guitar and vocals from American indie-rockers Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, as well as some blowin' from hip-hop swingers the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Though wrought from a perennial desert tradition of folk music, Tinariwen is looking more 2011 every day.