Tinariwen—the Grammy-winning Tuareg band composed of founding members Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Touhami Ag Alhassane and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, plus bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad and guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid—have announced their new album, Amatssou, out May 19th on Wedge, and a US tour, marking the first time they will play stateside since 2019 (dates below). In conjunction, Tinariwen share Amatssou’s lead single, “Tenere Den,” which pays homage to the Tuareg revolution in the Kel Adagh region of Mali. It’s accompanying video, directed by Alexis Jamet, features bright, textured animation to articulate the poignant lyrics.
Throughout Amatssou, the legendary collective’s ninth studio album, Tinariwen set out to explore the shared sensibilities between their trademark desert blues and the vibrant country music of rural America. Amatssou is Tamashek for “Beyond The Fear,” and it fits. Tinariwen have always been characterized by their fearlessness, single-handedly inventing a guitar style that has captured the world’s imagination. They call it ishumar or assouf (“nostalgia” in Tamashek). The rest of the world has come to know it as the Tuareg blues. It is music that is imbued with sorrow and longing but it’s also music to dance to, to forget our cares.
Including additional production by Daniel Lanois (Brian Eno, U2, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson), Amatssou finds the band’s signature snaking guitar lines and hypnotic grooves seamlessly co-existing alongside banjos, fiddles and pedal steel. Thousands of miles of ocean may divide these two landscapes, but the links are as palpable as they are romantic. Lead single “Tenere Den” is a thrilling expansion on the classic sound Tinariwen invented.
The story of Amatssou began in 2021 when Jack White, a long-time fan of the group, invited Tinariwen to record at his private recording studio in Nashville. The band had initially planned to record with Lanois alongside a group of local country musicians, including Wes Corbett and Fats Kaplin, a regular collaborator of White’s. However, following a series of COVID and travel-related delays, Tinariwen found themselves unable to make the trip from Mali to the States. New plans were hastily drawn for Lanois to travel to Africa, but after further delays dealt by the pandemic, Tinariwen, Lanois, Corbett, and Kaplin were ultimately forced to work remotely.
With final plans eventually in place, Tinariwen made the decision to lay the groundwork for Amatssou in Djanet, an oasis in the desert of southern Algeria located in Tassili N’Ajjer National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its prehistoric cave art. Among the jagged rock outcrops and dramatic sandstone vistas, Tinariwen set up a makeshift studio inside a tent using borrowed equipment from the fellow Tuareg band, Imarhan.
Tinariwen Tour Dates
Sat. May 27 – Chicago, IL @ Old Town School of Folk Music
Tue. May 30 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
Wed. May 31 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox
Fri. June 2 – Berkeley, CA @ UC Theater
Sat. June 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theater
Mon. June 5 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Tue. June 6 – Boston, MA @ Sinclair
Wed. June 7 – Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre
Sat. June 10 – Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
Mon. June 12 – Rubigen, CH @ Muhle Hunziken
Wed. June 14 – Florence, IT @Ultravox
Thu. June 15 – Milan, IT @ Triennale Garden
Fri. June 16 – Turin, IT @ Hiroshima Mon Amour
Sun. June 18 – Dublin, IE @ Body & Soul Festival
Thu. June 22 – Berlin, DE @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
Sat. June 24 – Glastonbury, UK @ Glastonbury Festival
Mon. 26 – Lille, FR @ Splendid
Wed. June 28 – Paris, FR @ Salle Pleyel
Thu. June 29 – Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique
Sat. July 1 – Roskilde, DK @ Roskilde Festival
Sun. July 2 – Stockholm, SE @ Slaktkyran
Tue. July 4 – Oslo, NO @ Rockefeller
Fri. July 7 – Bilbao, ES @ BBK Live Festival
Tue. July 11 – Arles, FR @ Les Suds Arles
Sat. July 15 – Bristol, UK @ SWX
Mon. July 17 – Glasgow, UK @ St Lukes
Wed. July 19 – Bermingham, UK @ Institute 2
Sat. July 22 – Cheshire, UK @ Bluedot Festival
Tue. 25 – Vigo, SP @ Terraceo Festival
Sat. July 29 – Luxey, FR @ Musicalarue Festival
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