Knit to This
Knit to This: Tinariwen
We dedicated Knit to This scouts don’t get press kits or download links for the albums we mention in this column. No, we spend almost all of our valuable time lollygagging around, just pressing the NEXT button on our music apps until something stops us in our tracks and then we excitedly race to tell you about This Thing We Stumbled Across (usually years and years late, after the last person on earth already knows about it). We do and do and do for you kids … and just look at the thanks we get!
Skimpiness on the press kit side of things is one reason it’s hard to talk to you in any sort of learned fashion about Tinariwen, the loose collective of Tuareg musicians who’ve taken up residence in my brain for the past few weeks. Formed in Malian refugee camps in Algeria, the group’s lineup has changed many many times, but they’ve been around a long loonnnng time (since the late 70s) and count Bono, Robert Plant and Wilco among their fervent fans. And because I don’t want to get into too much fact-checking trouble—this isn’t The New Yorker!—I’ll just stop right there with the whats and whys (you can Google as well as I can) and just get to the omigods.
Their new record Amatssou is so good. Tinariwen has six members at the moment: founders Ibrahim Ag Alhabib and Alhassane Ag Touhami, along with Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, Eyadou Ag Leche, Said Ag Ayad and Elaga Ag Hamid, and do be careful to not let their names get overwhelmed by those of the starrier western collaborators on this record (Daniel Lanois is around with woo-woo twing-twangy atmospheric guitar, along with bluegrass banjoista Wes Corbett and multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin)—the power of the album comes directly from Tinariwen’s core group. Nothing else sounds quite like this and it doesn’t sound like anything else, no matter how many familiar famous starry-eyed western musicians drop in for a song or two.
It’s a good solid hour of hypnotic rhythm and moody melody and altogether quite something.
Tinariwen gets classified frequently as “desert blues,” which is both vague and completely accurate. While their desert is the Sahara, the whole record has a desolate, windswept vibe that fits right in with any desert you might have handy. Take it with you on your next outdoor adventure and listen to it around the campfire—whether you’re in the Sahara, the Mojave or just your dusty old summertime backyard.
The prize? Our MDK Calendar Tea Towel 2023—one each to three winners!
It’s Hannah Jones’s fun take on one of the happiest kinds of knitting: the humble dishcloth.
How to enter?
Step 1: Sign up for MDK emails, right here. External Link. Opens in new window.. External Link. Opens in new window.. If you’re already signed up, you’re all set. We have a new option for texting, so when you sign up for those, you’ll get a coupon code good for 10% off your next MDK order.
Step 2: Which band or Knit to This entertainment is giving you the “omigods” right now?
Deadline for entries: Sunday, June 25, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw random winners from the entries. Winners will be notified by email.