The six-piece band release their long-awaited new single, a love letter to their home and Amazigh culture.
A woman lies still in an arid plain, the camera pans in and a rhythmic drumming begins. Suddenly, her eyes flick open. This is Fadma, a symbol of love, courage and bravery for the highlander people in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
Tasuta N-Imal means ‘future generation’ in the Amazigh language. Their desert blues music sheds light on local history and culture for the new generation and an international audience to discover.
From the opening, the drums are reminiscent of the Amazigh Ahidus performance tradition*. A bluesy guitar riff follows and soon more layers of guitars join the mix, weaving together a multi-coloured sonic tapestry. The blues sounds of electric guitars accompany the chanted refrain and verses.
The highlander band hail from Boumalne Dades in the Anti-Atlas Mountains and for the past year they have been carefully piecing together the story of Fadma. The poem has been passed down through oral tradition, and so accounts vary from place to place. Interviews with village elders, poets and writers and research across the region have culminated in their new single.
Speaking to WHAT A TUNE earlier this year, percussionist Redouan told me “Our ancestors were artists by nature… So we are poets, we love to rhyme. We always loved to sing in our traditional ceremonies… and we grew up sharing this… So we thought why don’t we use this rhythm, modernise it, show it to the world, create a new style of music…”
Fadma tells the story of a young woman from the village of Slilou. She falls deeply in love with a handsome man, however one day he abandons her. She is heartbroken to learn he plans to marry another. Yet, she gathers her courage and attends the night of the wedding. Women and men celebrate, dancing and singing Ahidus poems, as is the Amazigh tradition. Fadma recites a poem recounting her story and her conflicted feelings of love and betrayal towards the groom.
“We want to show the world this story, and the value and importance of the existence of the Amizigh woman. The woman suffers in this love story. It’s a tribute to honour her.”Redouan, Tasuta N-Imal
The video stars dancers Aida Jamal and Mohamed Bouriri as the two lovers locked in a passionate and wild dance. They combine traditional Amazigh costume and contemporary dance, much like Tasuta N-Imal’s music is a meeting of tradition and modernity. The video is set in several locations, including the Dadès Gorge, also known as the Monkeys’ Fingers because of its extraordinary rock formations.
Bassist Smail Khalis says “It is now our responsibility to revive this art and save it so that it is not forgotten […] to reach future generations just as it has been transmitted to us by previous generations.”
*(Ahidus is a type of Amazigh performance tradition where women and men stand in rows, they sing poems and the men play the drum.)