- 28 Jan 22
Algerian Desert Soul
Roughly translated, Assouf conveys a sense of longing and loss, a pain beyond the physical. The word was adopted to describe the Tuareg musical style that Tinariwen pioneered, and which bands like Imarhan carry on. A record shop owner might place it on their ‘desert blues’ shelf. You could just as easily call it Saharan soul.
Aboogi takes a step back from Imarhan’s more frenetic second album, 2018’s Temet. The band recorded this follow-up in their home town of Tamanrasset in Southern Algeria at the studio – also called Aboogi – that they built themselves. It’s an oasis city, surrounded by the desert, and every note here evokes that location.
It’s a beautiful record, from Sudanese singer Sulaf Elyas' divine contribution to ‘Taghadart’, to the rousing moment in opener ‘Achinkad’ where the electric riff, handclaps and rousing vocals emerge from the swaying acoustics. Indeed, something like the driving acoustic riff of ‘Derhan’ pulls off the neat trick of rocking harder than nearly any western electric combo you might name.
Elyas isn’t the only guest; Gruff Rhys completes a connection between the Western Cleddau and Ahaggar Mountains in ‘Adar Newlan’, and the late Mohamed Ag Itlate sounds suitably ancient on the moving ‘Tamiditin’, but it’s the band’s sound that you’ll get lost in. I could tell you, because the press release tells me, that the lyrics cover oppressive laws and ancestral texts, but, as worthy as these concerns no doubt are, it isn’t necessary to be aware of this.
From the deep, deep blues of ‘Tindjatan’ to the head-nodding groove of ‘Assossam’, to the barely-there echo guitar atmospherics of ‘Imaslan N’Assouf’, Aboogi is an album to move the hearts of anyone, anywhere.
- Live Review
- 28 Jun 22