(City Slang)

This edgy Algerian Tuareg desert rock five-piece came together in 2006, down in Tamanrasset. To this listener, the group – like Tinariwen – weave a magical sound that seems to combine the reflective with pure propulsion and enough refinement to lift the music to heights one might not anticipate. The band comprises lead guitar man Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane, guitarist Abdelkader Ourzig, bass man Tahar Kaldi, Hicham Bouhasse on percussion and guitar plus Haiballah Akhamouk on drums and percussion. The whole record features impassioned vocals, some unusual tempos – to us ! – and is drenched in churning, ringing, diving and buzzing guitar tones that weave, chatter and chase each other along. An invigorating listen for a scribe drowning in yet more releases slavishly recreating Robert Johnson songs! This is like a cool shower of sound…

Azzaman sets sale over a pumping bass rhythm before the riffing guitars dance in and a solemn grit-tainted vocal calmly intones the lyric of adversity coming to get you. The beat stabs and surges, pastoral passages threaded with damped chording and pattering percussion. The chorus is curiously catchy. At 3:12 a curling wah guitar starts a tumble before the riffing returns. On to Tamudre ruminates on humanity under pressure as the percussion taps away and guitar motifs float through the beat. That lovely bass never clutters the songs, it anchors them with sparse runs. Again the guitars chug away, riddled with suspensions and picked phrases. Such atmosphere, you feel the heathaze…

Ehad Wa Dagh is a frantic choppy masterpiece, the axes chatter away with insistence over fast claps and racing bass, the singing stirring and proud. A dirty guitar break is backed by flickering rhythm. Dynamic and exciting. Next up is Alwa which has staccato motifs and concerns homesickness and support for brethren back home keeping up the struggle. The guitar weave is uplifting and emphatic, psychedelic in its path through the song. On to Imunagh which laments the ongoing state of war. The nagging guitar biting at the tempo, the vocal truly reflective. A waspish tone hovers over a dark tremelo’d wash. The insistent solo could be classic Garcia!

Tumast is bass-led and toe-tapping, the psych six-stringing coming and going over the firm singing. So very purposeful ! The submetal riffing is fast and nimble. Resistance is futile when this group gets under way, folks. Tarha Nam is lyrically a pure long song, aching with potency. Beautiful acoustic guitar overlaid with light electric makes a brew and a half. Tochal evokes dusk in the desert, the words spiritual and thoughtful. This one skips along with abandon, tension vanquished even if temporarily. Next is Zinizjumegh taking us back to romance and tenderness. Acoustic and folky, this still dances to a hypnotic sway.

Things finish up with Ma Sa-Abok with a soft start and noonday ambience with a quite gorgeous understated vocal. Optimism here, shot through with realism at the pugilistic state of our world.

The accompanying booklet thoughtfully gives the English translation of each song lyric. But the sound and dynamics pretty much let you know what each piece is about. Recommended to the adventurous! These chaps are their own men with their own sound.

Pete Sargeant


Imarhan's new album 'Temet' is out now on City Slang.

For more information visit the band's official website here: