Words by Nigel Williamson
Perhaps the most eclectic Touareg guitar group ever
Another offshoot from the mighty Tinariwen tree, the five-piece known as Imarhan (Tamashek for ‘The Ones I Care About’) represent a new wave of Touareg groups, whose music still evokes the nomadic empty spaces of the Sahara but at the same time throbs with a more urban intensity. Led by Iyad Moussa Ben Abderrahmane, aka Sadam, and a cousin of Tinariwen’s Eyadou Ag Leche who produced the album, the group’s members grew up together in exile in Tamanrasset, southern Algeria, and Mali, and they draw on a range of influences and styles far broader than we’ve come to expect from a Touareg guitar record.
From the fresh, melodic acoustic opener ‘Tarha Tadagh’ and the delicious, slow burn of ‘Ibas Ichikkou’ to the echoing, spacey jams of ‘Arodj N-Inizdjam’ and the jangling folk intimacy of ‘Idarchan Net’, every track on their self-titled album offers something different in mood, rhythm, tempo or style. No other Touareg band has ever sounded quite so diverse, while remaining rooted in the deep mysteries of tribal tradition.