Before being occupied and islamised by the Arabs ( 285-788 AD ), Morocco like most parts of North Africa was the habitat of different Berber tribes, long ago named "Barbarians" by the Romans. Their very strong attachment to their culture, language and traditions made it difficult in the past for the Arabs as later for the French,Portugese and Spanish colonialists to integrate them into non-familiar cultures. Today in Morocco, the breach between Arabs and Berbers no longer exists and could never been compared, for instance to the Algerian / Kabyle problem. In spite of being part of the Moroccan society, Berbers have always kept their cultural roots and forms of expressions such as their language, art and music.
In Morocco,Berber music takes the second largest share of the cassettemarket part after Shabee. It has four main stylistic directions : The Rif music from the north, the Middle Atlas style (in the regions around Fes,Beni Mellal etc.), the south-central "Shlöh" traditions (around Marrakech,High Atlas and Ouarzazate), and finally the Souss - "Tamazeert" music (around Agadir,Taroudant,Tiznit and south- west) which is nowadays perhaps the most popular and commercialised style from all. Even if mainly sold in the south (Souss), loads of new tapes come out each week, either by solo artists, usually by four men combos (Banjo,Violin, Percussion,Lead vocals ), or very often by mixed women/men bands. The biggest names -- Oudaden, Izenzaren or Raïssa -Fatima Tabamrant -- do often sell more than 50`000 copies of one title. There are quite a lot of festivals or "Moussem" (popular feast), where bands regulary perform live.
Somewhere in the heart of Souss, south of Agadir, where "Tamazeert" is the main language, with its own alphabet and script (even if most people cannot read or write, but only speak it), there lies a small village famous mainly for it`s Goa like Hippie past. A lot of the `68 generation from around the world used to hang out on the beaches loaded on dope, shocking the indigenous population with their long hair and flower-power attitude. Once in the seventies the situation became so heavy that the Kaïd (mayor) of the village had to ban all tourism for an entire year. Those days are over now, and only a few come back each winter. But a certain influence and spirit was transmitted (maybe unfortunately) to some of the Berber kids, who were fascinated by this new life style and tried to live something similar on their own.
Argan, could be some of them...Instead of following their parents`s professions as farmers or fishermen, most youngsters are either leaving the village for the big cities or surviving from small occasional jobs, in this case, as musicians. After releasing a first tape for the local market, they now release their second recording and their debut album for Barraka E.F.Productions. Mastermind and texter of the band, Hassan Arouhal has been playing the banjo since he was a kid and sings here on eight tracks. Mohamed Najah does the main vocals on the other four tracks and El Bachir and Mohamed Marra the Backing vocals. Both Abdelhadi on bass and Mohamed Kbirr on violin are already quite well known as members of Aisha Kandisha`s Jarring Effects. On two songs, Omar Bouchenak from Les Frères Bouchenak makes a guest appearance on darboukka, which is otherwise played by Jalal Hamdaoui (by the way, Jalal`s solo-Raï project with Cheb Marra is planed for 1997).Pat Jabbar does the programming, samplings and plays keyboards. Fido K, the MIDI King, is responsible for additional programming and electric guitars on three tracks, as Bombax for additional programming on two tracks.
Argan is the name of a small tree that exists widely in Souss and in a tiny part of Mexico. From its fruit, one obtains a delicious and healthy oil. The tree symbolizes patience and adaptability to droughts and "Berberism"; it as well represents the band`s fondness for nature. Most of the lyrics are somehow related to nature and the natural environment, their meaning sometimes hiding in a second sense. For instance "Ajdig" means flower and is a declaration of love to a young girl. It is not meant to offend the older generation; the flower becomes the subject of the beloved. Water or plants are an emblem for wealth and blessing. The very poetic way of describing mountains,rivers,the sea and animals might seem naïve to the Occidental listener but is a typical of the traditional Berber song.