Imarhan: Aboogi

September 14, 2022

Shelter from the Storm

Listening Post 357. Imarhan’s third album takes its name from the dwellings the Tuareg band’s forebears built in their first permanent settlements—and it derives added meaning from the modern shelter they erected in Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria near the borders of Mali and Niger: After two albums produced in France, in 2019 the quintet started work on the first recording studio in the oasis town where they grew up, and Aboogi is the first album to emerge from the new music abode. Judging from the 11 festive and haunting tracks, they are more than comfortable in their pristine digs, turning out desert blues-rock rooted in traditional Saharan sound, African rhythms, folk overtones and embracing collaborations from near and far. The songs channel Tuareg life and the wisdom learned from their history, experience and environment. They balance weighty subjects and gentle melodies with mellow voices—in Tamasheq, with Arabic and Welsh interludes—to well-synched acoustic and electric guitars. They address patience and exile, love and regret, community and hedonism, long ago battles and contemporary abuse by distant rulers. Album opener Achinkad (The Gazelle, video 1) is a pulsing allegory of exile and separation, while Derhan (Hope, video 2) offers a sharp meditation on time. Assossam (Shut Us Up, video 3) is an upbeat anthem of resistance to misrule, lamenting, “They want us to fall behind them/They want us to stay ignorant.” In Taghadart (Betrayal, video 4), Sudanese singer Sulafa Elyasi joins the band in a stirring ballad of trust and deception. Farther afield, Adar Newlan (The Blazing Rocks, video 5) features Welsh musician-composer Gruff Rhys in an evocation of hardship, camaraderie and strong tea. Through tempests of wind or sand, seas of memory and imagination, storms of sorrow and deprivation, Imarhan’s Aboogi floats calmly through the waves and comes down in the ideal refuge: Home. (City Slang)

Imarhan: Aboogi
Band members: Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane (aka Sadam), Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Haiballah Akhamouk, Abdelkader Ourzig
Guest artists: Sulafa Elyasi, Gruff Rhys, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, Mohamed Ag Itlale (aka Japonais)

Note: In Tamasheq, Imarhan means “the ones I care about”


Achinkad / The Gazelle

(From the Tamasheq lyrics)
When night falls/the stars disappear
When day breaks/those who love her

This is the story of a gazelle/who is forced to abandon her child
Danger has come to her homeland/Peace no longer resides there
Her enemies are legion

It’s a scramble/in which her love was lost
My heart remains, seeking its desire/Searching for the one it loves


Derhan / Hope

(From the Tamasheq lyrics)
If Man only knew what time had in store
Perhaps he’d be more patient
Like one who believes in the good
That destiny can bring
And not just in its inevitability

Man’s virtue is in his words
What he wants, he hopes for
What he hopes for, he wants.

Assossam / Shut Us Up

(From the Tamasheq lyrics)
They want us to fall behind them/They want us to stay ignorant
They don’t care what happens to us/as long as we remain docile and pliant

There are no medicines/What’s the point of building towns?
The roads are all in ruins/The lands are all carved up

They want us to fall behind them/They want us to stay ignorant
They don’t care what happens to us/as long as we remain docile and pliant


Taghadart / Betrayal
Imarhan, Sulaya Elyasi

(From the lyrics in Tamasheq and Arabic)
Betrayal makes me febrile
It suffocates me
And stops me from breathing

Right now, I no longer believe in anything
not even my own senses.

I’ll make you an exception, my friend
But please, safeguard my trust
From now til the end of time.

I draw you as a portrait, the size of emptiness
Saw your features in all the faces
Planted the seed of certainty and watered it with yearning
Believed in you and offered your love to my soul
Pulled out the traitors’ sword/I have no blood to be spilled
Longing! Doubting myself not you, is killing me, my friend
You betrayed me
Didn’t you?


Adar Newlan / The Blazing Rocks
Imarhan, Gruff Rhys

(From the lyrics in Welsh and Tamasheq)
Creating a fire to heat the kettle
Strong and sweet tea, close by to
The door of the orange tent
A starry night under the moon

Strong tea
Strong tea
Strong tea
Strong tea 

The sons of my country are exhausted
Because they live in prisons
Under the blazing sun between rocks
Rocks that are full of fear
Full of buried secrets

We celebrate our existence
Our histories long
We sing a song for our heroes
Comrades under one sky

Strong tea
Strong tea
Strong tea
Strong tea




Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: