The desert blues revolution initiated by Algerian band Tinariwen in the 80s continues and evolves with Imarhan. Imarhan (in Tamashek, “the posse”), started out around 2008, making a new wave of Algerian music, founded on Tuareg traditions but meshed with jazz, blues and influences gathered from cultural and generational backgrounds in southern Algeria and further. Tinariwen, playing traditional music and wearing robed clothing to match, is a different story to Imarhan, a more eclectic ensemble wearing jeans and leather jackets, representing their hometown which is now a modern Tuareg city; Tamanrasset. This is a bustling city with fast internet, a tight-knit music scene and filled with young people playing Chinese-made guitars. Imarhan, however, are not obscuring how penetrative modernity is, they’re embodying how traditional music and culture has changed as a consequence of it.
Two albums later, Imarhan is currently touring in Europe. A recently released album, Temet, has received a warm response around the world. “Temet” in Tamashek means “connections,“ and Imarhan use it as an energetic wake-up call for unity, to remind people that we are all are connected, and that only through the acceptance of this union will we be able to solve the troubles, to bridge the increasing divide between cultures. Tamashek is spoken by approximately 62,000 people in Algeria and is gradually disappearing, but the growing success of the band is fighting to preserve it through music.
While slowly becoming a global name, the band has kept the balance between preserving their tradition and language: focusing on the strong songwriting surrounding their community struggles, Imarhan is also evolving with the modern times, and will be embraced everywhere from Algeria to Amsterdam, and beyond.
Imarhan is currently touring in Europe, and later in the US. Check their schedule here.