Tinariwen - Elwan
Critic Score
Based on 11 reviews
2017 Ratings: #147 / 838
User Score
Based on 83 ratings
2017 Ratings: #251
February 10, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Anti / Label
World / Genres
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The Independent

Elwan (Elephants), perhaps their most powerful album since Amassakoul, confronts their situation head-on, in songs musing on the values of ancestry, unity and fellowship, driven by the infectiously hypnotic cyclical guitar grooves that wind like creepers around their poetic imagery.

The Line of Best Fit
Tinariwen are the real deal, and they can accomplish a massive anti-establishment feel sans huge guitar solos.

Once again, all their music is crisply played, and smartly sequenced. Yet while Elwan may not herald any grand stylistic breakthrough, it does manage to synthesize some of the group’s most recent experiments in a way that helps distinguish it within their overall catalog.


By making the geographically distant feel welcomingly familiar, Tinariwen have made Elwan a can't-miss release for curious audiences from all corners of the globe.

Exiles, explorers, and seekers of inner truth, Tinariwen once again deliver a vital and engaging album.
Drowned in Sound

On their latest record, Elwan, this band of recently-outlawed musicians sound as immediate as ever, bursting with ideas and musical themes that throw influences from blues, folk, rock and their local tishoumaren into an irresistible melting pot.


It’s the haunted croak of the band’s main singers, Ibrahim and Abdallah, that are the main draw: the sound of heartbroken gangleader, the world-weary soldier, bravado replaced by tenderness. It’s a sound that suits them perfectly.


Their last studio record saw them in upbeat, energetic form, and whilst that playfulness is still present at times on Elwan, there is a conscious grounding too this time around.

As a child growing up in war torn Mali of the 1960’s, master guitar player Ibrahim Ag Alhabib built his very first guitar using nothing more than a tin can, stick and bicycle wire. By age 19 he had migrated to Algeria and in 1979 assembled the players who were to become Tinariwen (meaning “deserts”), ultimately returning to Mali following a cease-fire over a decade later. Seven albums, one Grammy and some 40 odd years since their initial formation Tinariwen are back with ... read more
This album displays a truly successful percussive sound with spare but effective polyrhythmic techniques, which is not a surprise given the group’s African heritage, and it rounds out a nice meditative experience with a few surprisingly catchy lines. My Score: 134/180 (Solid) = 74/100
Maybe the biggest hidden gem of the year so far!

Tribal, with flashes of electric blues & rock, as though the guitar was found out in the desert and mastered across this album.

The most entrancing component of this album must be the vocals, while for me personally, I have no clue what is being said there is still a beauty there, which is held in the voice.

A unique music experience, cathartic in the right circumstances. Granted there are a few songs here which really lack in comparison ... read more
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Year End Lists

#14/Digital Trends

Track List

  1. Tiwàyyen
  2. Sastanàqqàm
  3. Nizzagh Ijbal
  4. Hayati
  5. Ittus
  6. Ténéré Tàqqàl
  7. Imidiwàn N-Àkall-In
  8. Talyat
  9. Assàwt
  10. Arhegh Ad Annàgh
  11. Nànnuflày
  12. Intro Flute Fog Edaghan
  13. Fog Edaghàn
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Added on: October 19, 2016