In a region with no postal or telephone system, their tapes soon became a grassroots voice of rebellion and a rallying point for the disenfranchised nation. Though outlawed in Algeria and Mali, 2001's The Radio Tisdas Sessions and 2004's Amassakoul are available to Western audiences. In 2006, they recorded their third album, Aman Iman: Water Is Life, released internationally in 2007 by Harmonia Mundi
's World Village
imprint. The album was produced by Justin Adams
, and featured the voice and guitar of founding member Mohammed Ag Itlale. Tinariwen toured the world for the first time in its wake. They followed the album with Imidiwan: Companions, a two-disc set containing one disc of music and a DVD documentary about Tinariwen's history. This was once again followed by a world tour that included numerous festival appearances in the United States and Europe.
Tinariwen signed to America's Anti
imprint in 2010. The label encouraged them to experiment. The end result was Tassili, issued in 2011, in which the band recorded a completely acoustic set in a protected region of the southeastern Algerian desert. The tapes were flown to America where guitarist Nels Cline
overdubbed electric guitars and New Orleans' famed Dirty Dozen Brass Band
added horns, making Tassili a truly international collaboration. The album won a Grammy. The bandmembers were forced to flee Mali due to political and social unrest, and recorded their follow-up, Emmaar, at a studio in Joshua Tree National Park in the United States. It was released in February of 2014. Despite ongoing political upheaval, the band reconvened in 2016 after touring behind Emmaar, to record their sixth studio album, Elwan. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez & Thom Jurek, Rovi