If you bought War Child's Help: A Day In The Life album back in 2005, you may remember a track that was tucked inbetween Magic Numbers and The Coral: "Cler Archel" by the Malian band Tinariwen. While it was little heralded at the time, since then the UK's exposure to music from across Africa has grown and is now a firm part of the musical landscape, from Vampire Weekend's kwassa kwassa cool to the continent's indigenous acts gaining festival appearances, London dates and spots on Later... (natch).
Tinariwen’s remarkable history goes back to the late 70s when they began as a loose collection of displaced Touareg musicians centred around Ibrahim Ag Alhabib. Over time, these blue-clad nomads set up a studio to write and record their Saharan blues that speaks of rebellion, loneliness and freedom, with folk story-telling weaving the band and country's socio-political history and no little rock by way of Hendrix and Santana.
They’ve quietly released four albums since 2001 and the latest, Imidiwan: Companions (watch a clip here), sees none of the recent success distracting them, with the songs, passion and tales as powerful as ever. Their beguiling sound seems to issue forth as if from the desert sand itself, as a host of guitarists play sinewy, cyclical lines around hypnotic vocal melodies.
The band are playing Koko this Sunday, 25th October, and we've got a competition to brighten up someone's Monday morning. The deal is this: not only do you get to go to the gig, but also to watch a couple of songs from the side of the stage, and, perhaps best of all, meet the band after their soundcheck. Getting a chance to talk to Ibrahim and band should be very special indeed.
To enter, simply email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Tinariwen' in the subject and we'll pick a winner at random from the inbox.