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Tinariwen, Elwan

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Andrea Gin

Sometimes you stumble across an album that has the ability to fully transport you to a different time and place. Elwan, the new release from Grammy-winning group Tinariwen, is one of those albums, infused with the feeling of distance and longing, of people searching for a home that no longer exists.

Tinariwen is a group of Tuareg musicians whose homeland is in the Adrar des Ifoghas, a Saharan mountain range that straddles the border between north-eastern Mali and southern Algeria. They've spent three years performing concerts around the globe. While they were away, their homeland was transformed into a conflict zone — a place to which they could no longer return.

The band had no choice but to seek out new spaces to record. The first session for Elwan was recorded at the Rancho de la Luna studios in California's Joshua Tree National Park, where they had an impressive list of guest musicians drop by to contribute, including Kurt Vile, Matt Sweeney and Mark Lanegan. The second session was recorded in M’Hamid El Ghizlane in southern Morocco.

The resulting album sounds both near and far; a rumination on loss and a requiem for home. Listen to Elwan above, one week before its release.

Tinariwen is currently on tour in Europe, but the musicians plan to embark on an extensive North American tour in 2017. Check tour dates here. Elwan will be out on Feb. 10 via Anti-. You can pre-order the album here.

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