Poet-guitarists and soul rebels Tinariwen hail from the Sahara Desert region of Mali in northern Africa. The group takes it’s name, meaning “empty places,” as a reflection of their land of origin. Formed in 1982, their music is spare, haunting and beautiful, an aural reflection of their desert homeland. The poetic lyrics of their songs carry outspoken political thought that draws attention not only to current political repression in Mali, but also to the enforced exile of many and the continuing struggle for self-determination of their people. This month we explore their powerful new album ‘Elwan’ (meaning elephants). Guest artists appearing on the record include Kurt Vile, Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees), Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age) and guitarist Matt Sweeney, who’s worked with Louisville’s Will Oldham.