Imarhan’s debut album is packed with what you might describe as slow-burn Saharan space jams. The Algerian six piece are amped and energetic live, all jeans and t-shirts and tousled curls, but the performance and production of this record is the restrained and intimate sound of afternoon heat releasing into the night.
The title means ‘the ones I care about’ in Tamasheq, the band’s Afro-Asiatic language, and that intimacy streams through the record – particularly through the calm sensuality of lead singer Sadam’s sand-and-honey vocals.
There’s music here for people who know they like Tuareg sounds – the record was co-produced by Tinariwen’s Eyadou Ag Leche – but there’s so much more. Imarhan’s ten songs make perfect sense next to transcendent guitar musicians like Emeralds or Fennesz, or intimate singers in the Nick Drake realm of things, or kora masters Toumani and Sidiki Diabate.
Imarhan’s members live in the last town on the road to Niger, but they hail from northern Mali and their music updates their Tuareg lineage with acres of West African space and a heat-soaked intimacy.
Emma will be talking on our stage at Port Eliot Festival, 28-31 July. Imarhan play Port Eliot’s Park Stage on Saturday 30 July.