– ALL AGES- STANDING ROOM ONLYIMARHANIn early 2019 the members of Imarhan began literally laying the groundwork for their third album. The Tuareg quintet was building a professional recording studio, the first ever in their home city of Tamanrasset in Southern Algeria, from the ground up. By March of 2020 the studio was filled with high-end audio gear otherwise inaccessible to the vast majority of musicians in much of the Saharan region. The group christened it Aboogi, named for the first semi-permanent structures their nomadic forebears built when establishing settlements and villages, and began tracking the first album they were able to record on their native soil. It seemed only natural to also call the resulting collection of songs Aboogi, a nod to the new collective space they had established, as well as the resilience of their culture and communities.The diversity, beauty, and struggles of life in Tamanrasset are reflected in the songs on Aboogi. Following the exhilarating, eclectic Temet – which OkayAfrica declared “doesn’t just take the next step in Tuareg music; it sends it into hyperspace” – Imarhan has made an album that is as serene and open as the desert it emerged from. “Aboogi reflects the colors of Tamanrasset, what we experience in everyday life,” says bandleader Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane, aka Sadam. “We give space to the wind and the natural energies, to the sun and the sand. We want to express their colors through music.” There is incredible warmth embedded in these steady, lilting rhythms and patiently strummed acoustic guitars, derived not just from the natural environment but from the community that surrounds them. That warmth may come from the Saharan sun and those living under it, fostered by many generations of musicians that came before them, but it emanates outwards as Imarhan become leading ambassadors for their people and culture around the world.As they have brought this music to new audiences in far-flung places, Imarhan’s musical community has also become global. Aboogi features Sudanese singer Sulafa Elyas, who contributes a gorgeous verse in Arabic on the mournful “Taghadart,” and Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys sings of the value of kinship on “Adar Newlan” in his native Welsh. Their local Tamanrasset community joins in as well, including Tinarwen’s Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni and the poet Mohamed Ag Itlale, also known as Japonais, a pillar of the city’s artistic community who passed away shortly after these recordings were made. Imarhan’s musical world has always been expansive, based in the traditional sounds of the Tuareg people but fiercely individualistic and embracing of the many varied styles they encounter. On Aboogi they emerge as a truly global group, united with their collaborators in a spirit of resistance and social change.
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