LABEL: City Slang
Imarhan is a five-piece band from Tamanrasset, the largest Tuareg community in Algeria. They’re led by Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane aka Sadam, whose cousin Eyadou Ag Leche is the bassist for desert blues standard-bearers Tinariwen. Imarhan is part of a second generation of assouf music bands with a global outlook and most definitely an eye for the first-world marketplace; as Sadam says, “It’s not only camels in the desert now … it’s an open door to the rest of the world.” Their second album starts with a bang, with four high-energy tracks in sequence: 1 has a funky, loping backbeat and an extended wah-wah guitar solo; the Latin-tinged rhythm and hummable guitar line of 2 reminds me of Santana; 3 is straight-up rock, fast and tuneful like pop-punk; and 4 is an amped-up version of the classic desert blues sound. They downshift to a low simmer on 5, then crank it back up on 6 which starts with an Afrobeat-like pulse and ends in a guitar rave-up. This album is right there with Tamikrest’s 2011 Toumastin as the second generation’s finest, and more evidence that the best rock ‘n’ roll in the world right now is coming from the Sahara Desert.
TOP TRACKS: 1 2 3 4 5 6
ALSO RECOMMENDED: 7 8 9 10
Bill Lupoletti is world music director at WRIR 97.3 FM and wrir.org in Richmond, Virginia, where he hosts the Global A Go-Go radio program on Wednesdays at 3 PM and writes the globalagogo.com world music blog.