Image by Julien Bourgeois
If you hadn’t realised that Tuareg music needed a fresh take, then consider yourself told. South Algerian band Imarhan’s curious blend of traditional Tuareg rhythms, flecked with jazz undertones, a funky edge and modern pop sensibility has seen them win fans the world over and earning them airplay from the likes of Lauren Laverne.
Tracks like Tahabort comes on like an (even more) funked up Doobie Brothers’ Long Train Runnin’, replete with clipped percussion and intricate funky guitar lines. The more subdued Ibas Ichikkou drips with understated emotion; while Idarchan Net’s bright acoustic guitar and sedate rhythm is the perfect backing for the hypnotic vocals. They may share familial links with Mali’s Tinariwen (frontman Sadam’s cousin is in the respected Tuareg band) but Imarhan’s sound is rooted more modern musical concepts, creating a spellbinding and eclectic sound.
The band play Sunderland’s Independent on Wednesday 7th September, and their live gigs have reached near legendary status. Traditional African music often has the power to turn a sedate audience into a raucous celebratory party, and Imarhan’s unique fusion of sounds provides even more of a reason to listen closely, bring your dancing shoes and celebrate the raw power of emotion, rhythm and damn good vibes.