Imarhan have got wind in their sails! The desert-rock outfit from Tamanrasset, Southern Algeria, have released their debut album today, April 29th, on City Slang.
The band released a music video for their song “Imarhan” earlier this month as a visual taste of the album. While describing their music as a mix between traditional Saharan folk and Western electric blues, the legendary Tinariwen immediately come to mind. It turns out Eyadou Ag Leche from Tinariwen is in fact a cousin of Imarhan’s frontman Sadam. They helped them through their evolution and produced/co-wrote several songs on the LP. If the two bands offer something comparable, Imarhan claims to provide a more “integrally urban base than the ancestral Tamashek poetry and traditional rhythms of their elders.”
The band started with a bunch of kids gathering everyday after school to plug their grimy guitars in makeshift amps. I know this sounds exactly like the garage band you or your mates were a part of in your teenage years, but these guys began in a somewhat unusual context: the Sahara desert, and more precisely Tamanrasset in Southern Algeria. Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane aka “Sadam”, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Haiballah Akhamouk and Abdelkader Ourzig all grew up near each other in a Tuareg community of Northern Malian descent.
The five long-time buddies grew up in the same district – Sersouf – went to the same school and scratched their knees on the same dirt fields before they started playing music together at parties under the name of Imarhan. Such a strong friendship undoubtedly influenced their musical development and writing, which explains the sense of intimacy and room for mind-drifting jams in their songs. This aspect is in line with the band’s name – Imarhan – which in the Kel Tamashek language means “the ones I care about”.