"It's a song of mine that I have been playing since the early days of my career," Bombino told Billboard this week (though he speaks several languages, on Azel he sings in his native Tamasheq). "The song talks about the difficult balance that we as Tuareg people face holding on to our traditions and our cultural identity while at the same time adapting to the modern world so that we too can develop alongside everyone else... It is an appeal to Tuareg people to remember their role in the world."
Big Data, the stage name of electronic artist Alan Wilkis, slows down the tempo of the track and gives it more space to stretch out, in the process pushing the song's Tuareg roots into a more current ambience.
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"Already the song, the way we recorded it, is a mix of traditional and modern style," Bombino said. "Then on top of this you have a remix from Big Data that makes a mix of the original as we recorded it and an even more modern, electronic style. I guess it is at the next level of mixing original and new."
Check out the remix of "Akhar Zaman" above.