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Amazigh World Music By Imanaren

Looking for “authentic” world music? You won’t get much more down-to-earth than Imanaren, a group of Amazigh musicians from the south of Morocco whose debut record was self-released on a limited scale within the country before being re-released by the Dutty Artz label. According to the label’s Web site, band leader Hassan Wargui “isn’t allowed to play music in the house, so we recorded [some music videos] with his local friends and fellow musicians in a natural amphitheatre carved out by a waterfall in a dry gorge.” Traditional musicians relegated to outdoors practice by unimpressed family patriarchs? Now that’s authentic.
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The good news is twofold. DIY or not, the recording quality of Imanaren’s debut is impressively full and warm, if a little weak in the lower registers, and just as important, the tunes are smokin’. My understanding of what constitutes “traditional Berber (Amazigh) music” is hazy at best – except for knowing that Berbers are the indigenous, non-Arab peoples of North Africa, whose populations traditionally tended to concentrate in the mountains.

Fortunately, further knowledge is entirely unnecessary to appreciate tracks like “Taldrar N Lawlia (The Flowering of the Wise)”. The tune rolls from the speakers on a gentle bed of hand drum rhythms and a plucked oud (lute) melody which is picked up and amplified by the intertwining vocals. The tune weaves a hypnotic spell which ends all too quickly notwithstanding its 4:40 running time.

That running time makes this the second shortest track on the album. There are only seven songs here, but five of them are in the six to nine minute-plus range, making for a satisfying listening experience. Songs have plenty of time to find a groove and milk it. Instrumental solos and rhyhmic shifts are few, but if you like to trance out, this might be your new favourite record. more
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