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Video premiere: Tuareg guitarist Bombino dedicates powerful new video to fallen brothers

The Tuareg guitarist Bombino.
(Marije Kuiper)

“My brothers! Far from your ancestral culture, your personality disappears along with your spirit.”

So reads the epigraph for the new video for “Akhar Zaman,” a song from North African guitarist, singer and songwriter Bombino’s recent album “Azel” (which was produced by Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors). The video, which The Times is premiering, explores the plight of refugees worldwide and features Bombino seeming to wash ashore in America, undocumented and alone.

The clip was directed by Sam Bathrick and mixes shots of the guitarist, a member of Tuareg tribe of North African nomads who recently endured a brutal war, wandering America with wide eyes and others of him and his band performing during a recent tour.

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Those who have seen Bombino in action understand why he, like many music-minded Tuaregs, opted for a guitar instead of a gun.

A few years ago during one of his early American tours, he mesmerized a crowd at MacArthur Park and has returned to the city to perform on numerous occasions. In 2014, Bombino gigged the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and in a few weeks he’ll return to the desert, this time concluding a string of U.S. dates with a performance in Joshua Tree on Oct. 14 as part of the annual Desert Daze festival.

At the end of the video for “Akhar Zaman,” Bombino offers a tribute: “For my brothers: Ahmed Rahmar (1976-2016); Mohamed ‘Mouma Bob’ Ahar (1963-2016); “Koutana” Van Loon (1981-2016).”

Asked about the dedication, the artist’s management issued a statement:

“This year Bombino lost three people who were very close to him. Ahmed was his first cousin and a life-long source of support. Mouma Bob is a well-known Tuareg and Nigerien artist who was a mentor to Bombino early in his career and a dear friend throughout his life. Koutana Van Loon was also a life-long friend and part-time member of Bombino’s group — in fact, it was he who sang backing vocals on the Azel album (including on ‘Akhar Zaman’). All three died quite suddenly, well before their time, and Bombino misses them all dearly. He wanted to use this opportunity to offer them a tribute.”

There’s a lot of terrible music out there. For tips on the stuff that’s not, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit


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