Comprised of Iyad Moussa “Sadam” Ben Abderahmane, Tahar Khaldi, Hicham Bouhasse, Abdelkader Ourzig and Haiballah Akhamouk, the Tamanrasset, Algeria-based quintet Imarhan formed back in 2008 and while being among a newer generation of Tuareg musicians, who haven’t fought in the various conflicts that have devastated the region; however, since their formation, the band, which has been mentored by internationally renowned Tuareg act Tinariwen, has developed a reputation across the Tuareg world and elsewhere for pairing the ancestral tamashek poetry and traditional rhythms of their elders with contemporary sounds that reflect their urban upbringings, listening to a variety of music from around the globe. (Interestingly, the connection to Tinariwen is not just a generational one of acclaimed elders wanting to pass their wisdom on to the young, new breed; it’s actually familial, as Tinariwen’s Eyadou Ag Leche is Ben Abderahmane’s cousin.)
In fact, with the release of their 2016, critically applauded, self-titled debut album, the band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a growing profile that found them opening for the likes of Kurt Vile, the aforementioned Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctor at venues across the US, the European Union and China. And building upon that growing profile, the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort Temek, derives its name from the Tamashek word for “connections” and the Patrick Votan and Eyadou Ag Leche-produced album, which was recorded earlier this year in Paris reportedly is a urgent wake up call to the listener, reminding them that we are all connected and that without unity, we will never be able to solve our world’s most pressing problems — i.e., environmental destruction, inequality, racism, growing strife and conflict, etc. As the band’s Ben Abderahmane says in press notes, “People should love each other. They need to know each other, we need to know each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders,” he continues. “You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and will hand down his knowledge to his children.” But along with that message, the album finds the band pushing their sound to include elements of funk, disco and rock; in fact, the album’s first single “Azzaman” is a mediative and hypnotic yet subtly contemporary take on the region’s famed desert blues sound, as the song finds the band hinting at psych rock, thanks to some impressively blazing guitar work.
Directed by Visions Particulières and filmed in Algiers, Algeria, the recently released video for “Azzaman” offers an equally meditative glance at Tuareg life, pointing out that while some things are understandably different culturally and linguistically, we share much more similarities than we expect. After all, people struggling to get by daily with their dignity intact is universal; and in fact, if you were watching the video in mute, it wouldn’t be until you saw the street scenes that you’d notice anything wildly different. As the band explains, the video’s concept “is about the passing of time and the handing over of a heritage by each generation. It’s about the importance of leaving the right legacy. It’s also about connecting the cultures, the mixing of the old with the new. The video was shot in Algiers to reflect the meaning behind the song, it’s a big cosmopolitan city, an urban environment which culturally offers a lot yet it’s still a place in which we can keep on preserving some Tuareg ways of life.”