Davies + Starr
| Credit: Davies + Starr

Desert Rock, a new wave of African music made by members of the nomadic Saharan Tuareg tribe, is building a fervent international audience. Here, what to download right now.

The latest by these scene-leaders from Mali is hard-grooving rebel rock that bears deep traces of Delta blues, psychedelic rock, and soul—though its sound is indelibly African.

Two former members of Tinariwen formed Terakaft, whose new compilation is a bit more delicate, though it’s interrupted by moments of Hendrixian guitar virtuosity.

Originally from Niger, this male-female duo mixes funk-style vamps with songs glorifying freedom fighters and martyrs.

This six-man band, with members from the Tuareg and Wodaabe peoples, combines spidery guitar lines with hypnotic hand drums.

A sampler of the various leading lights on the desert-rock circuit.

Want to hear the music in person?Visit January’s Festival of the Desert ( in Essakane, Mali, where the Tuareg celebrate their culture for three days.