Tassili (album)

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Tassili album.jpg
Studio album by
Released29 August 2011 (2011-08-29)[1]
Recorded1–20 November 2010, Tassili n'Ajjer, south-east Algeria[2]
GenreAfrican blues, world
ProducerIan Brennan, Jean Paul Romann[3]
Tinariwen chronology
Alhassane Ag Touhami (center) and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni (right) performing with Tinariwen in Vienna, 2011.

Tassili is the fifth album by the Tuareg-Berber band Tinariwen, recorded in Tassili n'Ajjer, an Algerian national park in 2011. The album marked a major departure from previous recordings;[4] the producer, Ian Brennan, stated that it "was the least overdubbed, most live, band-centric and song-oriented record they have done.”[2]

It won a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2012.[5]

Recording sessions[edit]

The album was recorded during a three-week session in the rocky desert near Djanet, a town on the southern rim of the Tassili n'Ajjer plateau located in south-eastern Algeria, it was this protected region from which the group derived the album's name. The plateau served as an alternate location to record the album after Tessalit, the band's home town in northern Mali, proved to be too precarious due to renewed conflict.[4]

The region's close proximity to Libya made it a place of relative safe passage for Kel Tamashek fighters who traveled from the refugee camps in Libya to the battlefront of northern Mali during the 1980s and the Tuareg Rebellion during the early 1990s,[4] it was during this time that the group's founding members first came to play together as political exiles in tents and around campfires of refugee settlements.

The rehearsals for and recording of the album were conducted in similar way to those original performances.[2]

We wanted to go back to our origins, to the experience of [being exiled]… Those were times when we would sit around a campfire, singing songs and passing around a guitar. Tinariwen was born in that movement, in that atmosphere, so what you hear on ‘Tassili’ is the feeling of ishumar.

— Eyadou ag Leche, The New York Times[2]

Tinariwen, in addition to largely substituting both acoustic guitars and unamplified percussion for their usual electric guitars (reflecting their return to an older way of life),[4][6] also had hundreds of pounds of recording equipment and other gear transported to a canyon deep in the desert (running off a generator placed far enough from the microphones in the main tent to prevent noise pollution).[2]


The album was compiled and mixed by David Odlum at Studio Soyuz in Paris during February 2011 and at Studio Black Box in Angers during March 2011, it was mastered by John Golden at the Golden Mastering recording studio in Ventura, California during April 2011.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Featured Artist(s)Length
1."Imidiwan Ma Tenam"Ibrahim Ag AlhabibNels Cline4:41
2."Asuf D Alwa"Ibrahim Ag AlhabibKyp Malone4:14
3."Tenere Taqhim Tossam"Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Babatunde Omoroga Adebimpe, Eyadou Ag Leche, Kyp MaloneTunde Adebimpe & Kyp Malone4:13
4."Ya Messinagh"Ibrahim Ag AlhabibThe Dirty Dozen Brass Band5:30
5."Walla Illa"Ibrahim Ag AlhabibTunde Adebimpe & Kyp Malone4:54
6."Tameyawt"Ibrahim Ag Alhabib 4:39
7."Imidiwan Win Sahara"Ibrahim Ag AlhabibTunde Adebimpe3:45
8."Tamiditin Tan Ufrawan"Ibrahim Ag Alhabib 3:04
9."Tiliaden Osamant"Ibrahim Ag Alhabib 3:26
10."Djeredjere"Liya Ag Ablil, Ahmed, Keddou Ag Ossad 4:38
11."Iswegh Attay"Sanou Ag AhmedKyp Malone5:50
12."Takest Tamidaret"Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni 4:41
Total length:53:30

A two-disc special edition includes a bonus disc with the tracks "Djegh Ishilan", "El Huria Telitwar", "Kud Edazamin", and "Nak Ezzaragh Tinariwen".


  • Ibrahim Ag Alhabib – guitars; lead vocals
  • Alhassane Ag Touhami – background vocals; handclaps
  • Eyadou Ag Leche – guitars and bass guitar; percussions (handclaps); background vocals, and lead vocals on "Tenere Taqhim Tossam"
  • Elaga Ag Hamid – guitars; handclaps; background vocals
  • Said Ag Ayad – percussions (handclaps); background vocals
  • Mohamad Ag Tahada – percussions (handclaps); background vocals
  • Mustapha Ag Ahmed – handclaps; background vocals
  • Aroune Ag Alhabib – guitars; vocals on "Iswegh Attay Outro"
  • Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni – guitar; lead vocals on "Takest Tamidaret"
  • Kyp Malone – guitar on "Iswegh Attay", "Tenere Taqhim Tossam", and "Walla Illa"; vocals on "Iswegh Attay" and "Asuf D Alwa"
  • Tunde Adebimpe – vocals on "Walla Illa", "Imidiwan Win Sahara", "Tenere Taqhim Tossam"
  • Nels Cline – guitars on "Imidiwan Ma Tenam"
  • Gregory Davis – trumpet on "Ya Messinagh"
  • Roger Lewis – baritone and soprano saxophone on "Ya Messinagh"

Gregory Davis and Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, with arrangement by Ian Brennan, contributed to the fourth track "Ya Messinagh". Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe from the American art rock band, TV on the Radio, traveled to the isolated recording site in Mali, staying eight days and contributing backing vocal harmonies on five tracks and lead vocals on one track,[4] they had first met Tinariwen two years before at the Coachella festival in California when the two bands were on the same bill.[2] Nels Cline, the guitarist from the American alternative rock band Wilco, played on the first track, "Imidiwan Ma Tenam".[7]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Antiquiet(5/5) [9]
Pitchfork(7.8/10) [4]
The Guardian4/5 stars [10]
The Observer4/5 stars [11]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars [12]
Paste Magazine(8.2/10) [13]
Allmusic4/5 stars [3]
Spin Magazine8/10 stars [14]
Pop Matters9/10 stars [15]

Bob Boilen stated in a review of the album for NPR Music that "Tinariwen is just about the best guitar-based rock band of the 21st century."[7]

Elysa Gardner of USA Today gave the album 2.5 stars out of 4.[citation needed] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received a score of 80, based on 37 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8] Uncut placed the album at number 18 on its list of the top 50 albums of 2011.[16]

Mojo placed the album at number 35 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011."[17]

On 12 February 2012, the album won a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.[5]


  1. ^ "Tinariwen Tassili". Anti Records. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Larry Rohter (31 August 2011). "Blues From the Desert, Recorded On-Site". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b Thom Jurek. "Tinariwen: Tassili Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Joe Tangari (29 August 2011). "Tassili Album Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Winners: 54th Annual Grammy Awards (2011)". Recording Academy. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  6. ^ "ANTI To Release New Album By Tinariwen". Anti Records. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  7. ^ a b Bob Boilen (21 August 2011). "First Listen: Tinariwen, 'Tassili'". National Public Radio. NPR Music. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Tassili - Tinariwen". Metacritic. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  9. ^ Morad Moazami (28 September 2011). "Tinariwen Find Home in 'Tassili'". Antiquiet. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  10. ^ Robin Denselow (25 August 2011). "Tinariwen: Tassili – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  11. ^ Neil Spencer (27 August 2011). "Tinariwen: Tassili – review". The Observer. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  12. ^ Will Hermes (30 August 2011). "Tinariwen: Tassili Anti-". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  13. ^ Stephen M. Deusner (31 August 2011). "Tinariwen: Tassili Anti-". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  14. ^ Richard Gehr (30 August 2011). "Tinariwen 'Tassili'". Spin Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  15. ^ David Maine (1 September 2011). "Tinariwen: Tassili". Pop Matters. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  16. ^ Tom (29 November 2011). "Uncut's Top 50 Albums Of 2011". Stereogum. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  17. ^ "MOJO's Top 50 Albums Of 2011". Stereogum. December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.

External links[edit]