Posts Tagged ‘imarhan’

Top of the World June 2016: The best new releases

Posted on May 5th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the June (#118) issue.

Imarhan (City Slang)


The young Touareg band Imarhan release an enthralling collection of songs, drawing influences from a variety of subjects and musical styles to create a dynamic and diverse debut album.

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Sociedade Recreativa
Sociedade Recreativa (Jarring Effects)

Sociedade Recreativa Cover

With help from producer Maga Bo, Brazilians Sociedade Recreativa create a memorable album mixing traditional instruments and sound effects.

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Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd
Pa’ki Pa’ka (Asphalt Tango Records)

Robert 'Robi' Svärd - Pa'ki Pa'ka Cover

Trained as a classical guitarist while growing up in Australia, Swedish guitarist Svärd showcases his unique and individual take on flamenco music on this beautiful debut.

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Afro Celt Sound System
The Source (ECC Records)

Afro Celt Sound System - The Source Cover

A reenergised Afro Celt Sound System return after more than a decade since their last album.

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Jarlath Henderson
Hearts Broken, Heads Turned (Bellows Records)

Jarlath Henderson - Hearts Broken, Heads Turned Cover

Piper-turned-singer Jarlath Henderson releases a confident debut as a solo artist. Displaying impressive arrangements and musicality, the album exudes a youthful yet matured sentiment.



Anian (Real World)

9Bach - Anian Cover

9Bach deliver a cohesive set of original and traditional Welsh folk songs on their third album, a soulful and brooding project that explores themes of human nature and the outside world.

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Sierra Hull
Weighted Mind (Rounder Records)

Sierra Hull - Weighted Mind Cover

This album captures the mind of a maturing Sierra Hull, looking for direction in a changing world, showing off her ability as a talented instrumentalist and a sensitive songwriter.

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Joe Driscol & Sekou Kouyaté
Monistic Theory (Cumbancha)

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate - Monistic Theory Cover

Rapper Driscoll and kora player Kouyaté collaborate once again, seamlessly blending their own unique styles to create their own musical language.

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Gambari Band
Kokuma (Membran)

Gambari Band - Kokuma Cover

This nine-piece are a prime example of the great music currently coming out of Mali. Their debut, full of uplifting harmonies and explosive polyrhythms, is a captivating listen.

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Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble
Sing Me Home (Sony Music Masterworks)

Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble - Sing Me Home Cover

Cello icon Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble release their most diverse project yet, covering a range of musical worlds, from Mali to China.

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Imarhan – Imarhan | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on April 28th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


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.

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Introducing… Imarhan

Posted on February 24th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .


The young Touareg band are striking out from under Tinariwen’s shadow and doing their own thing. Andy Morgan reports

Back in 2010, I stayed with Tinariwen’s bassist Eyadou Ag Leche at his home in Tamanrasset, southern Algeria. When I arrived a bunch of youths were rehearsing with their guitars in one of the bedrooms. As soon as we entered they stopped and left. They seemed shy but self-reliant and clearly on a mission. One of them, Iyad Ag Ibrahim, aka ‘Sadam’, was a cousin of Eyadou.

Now that band of reticent teenagers have become the rising stars of Touareg music. They call themselves Imarhan, which means ‘The Closest Ones’ in the Touareg language of Tamashek. It’s stronger than the word imidiwan, which often crops up in modern Tamashek lyrics and simply means ‘Friends’ or ‘Companions’. Your imarhan are your most intimate soul-buddies, bar none.

These particular imarhan first got together in 2006. They were childhood friends who grew up in Tamanrasset. “I’ve always lived there,” says Sadam. “Same neighbourhood [Sersouf], same school, always the same.” Considering the recent history of the Touareg, that’s significant. Sadam and his friends aren’t old ishumar rebels from the ‘home country’ in northern Mali, like Tinariwen. They’re a new generation, born ‘in exile’. Their music is different. So are their clothes, their ideas, their outlook, even the slang they use.

Journalists are already calling them ‘the sons of Tinariwen.’ “I don’t like the term that much,” Sadam tells me, “because I think that our own work, our research, have made us different. They’ve led us to more of a mix, something a bit more modern. We’ve still kept the Touareg touch of the ishumar, but we’re open to the world. We’ve searched for our own style.”

Looks alone offer a stark demarcation: Imarhan’s woollen beanies, combat trousers and stoner mini-dreads are a far cry from the traditional robes of Tinariwen. Sadam, who’s recently been touring with Tinariwen, standing in for the semi-retired Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, doesn’t mind those majestic traditional threads. He just feels a Touareg should be allowed to wear what he or she wants.

But Tinariwen were still the teachers. Sadam and his fellow band members – Tahar Ag Kaddor, Hicham Ag Boubas, Kada Ag Chanani, Hachim Ag Abdelkader and Habibalah Ag Azouz – cut their teeth on the first two Tinariwen albums, as well as the traditional sounds of the Touareg tindé (drum) and tazaghmat (flute) and desert sounds from further afield. “Ibrahim [Ag Alhabib] is like the father of all this music,” Sadam says. “He’s very important. So, yes, ‘the sons of Ibrahim’… why not!?”

But it’s Sadam’s uncle who’s had the most direct input into Imarhan’s sound. “Eyadou has guided me since I was small,” Sadam says. The Tinariwen bassist also produced Imarhan, their forthcoming debut. A Touareg musician producing other Touareg musicians! That’s a big leap forward, long overdue.

But what’s the message? “I think you have to look for every solution before taking up arms,” Sadam tells me. “The Touareg are often taking up arms, but I don’t think it brings the result that people hope for. Everybody must go to school, because there aren’t enough well-educated leaders among the Touareg.”

And an independent Touareg state? “Even if they give independence to the Touareg, there aren’t enough well-educated administrators to manage all that independence.”

DATES Imarhan will play London and Brighton on March 10 & 11

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