When Imarhan released their self-titled debut album in 2016, they stepped into a genre already flooded with talent and exposure, but still managed to rise to the top and be heralded as the “new wave Of Tuareg music“ by Fact Magazine. It is with much anticipation that the band from Tamanrasset, Algeria have announced the details of their second album Temet, due out February 26 on City Slang.
Temet is a huge leap forward in production, as well as creatively for Imarhan. Whereas their debut was anchored in the meditative Desert Blues tradition, Temet eclipses such notions, finding bounce and drive by stirring their sound with funk, fuzz, disco and rock. This is not a novel concept to the band, as anyone who has seen them play will attest. There is a disparity between their emotional and thoughtful first album and the raucous, ecstatic live show. And while Temet is decisively more eclectic, the aesthetic wisdom and singular vision of their debut remains on full display. Imarhan's experience as a touring band has reinforced the focus and meaning behind their music. Instead of traversing the desert, these Nomadic travelers have gone global to reflect on today’s struggles. “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. Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane (aka Sadam) illustrates this by saying, “People should love each other, everyone should get to know their neighbor. We need to have the same approach as our elders. You will stumble across an old man who knows the world and he will hand down his knowledge to his children.“
The new work also finds the band maturing, and realizing their influence. In the decade leading up to their first release, Imarhan were considered the youngsters of the Tuareg Desert Blues revolution. They started in 2008, whilst still still at school, under the guidance and counsel of their “bigger brothers” Tinariwen. Their status has now been heightened with the growing success of Imarhan. The international press, and tours through the US, China and Europe have paved the way to become their own entity within the Algerian music community. With this ascension, they have been granted a more elevated responsibility to cultivate the blossoming new generations as leaders to young people around the Mali border, the front lines of the changing modern world. The balance between honoring and preserving the traditions to which they owe so much, while also evolving with the times is at the heart of their lives and their music. Sadam continues to say, “We want children to be educated, to develop a mindset that will protect what is left of this community, because I've come to the conclusion that everything has an end, and also that everything evolves. The Tamashek language is gradually disappearing. Even we're confronted with this issue, but we're fighting to preserve it. It's the music that keeps us connected to the language, and allows us to continue speaking it.”
The standout tracks are immediately recognizable on first listen. The first single ’Azzaman’ teases krautrock before turning into a passionate new community anthem.’Tumast’ is a blazing, fervent liberation song with all-for-one handclaps thundering over a frenetic guitar riff, leading to an ecstatic delirium. ’Ehad Wad Dagh’ is an heavy disco jam that blows away any pre-existing concept of Tuareg music. However, it’s important that the album isn't judged on its powerful dance songs alone, there are subtle tones here as well that relate to the individual sound of the first record. These classic, elegiac Imarhan songs spread out like an entire landscape in front of you, most notably the emotional and heedful acoustic guitar album-closer ’Mas S-abok’.
With Temet, Imarhan have firmly established themselves as a band to reckon with. Rather than being distracted by meddling around with big producers or famous guests, they’ve focused this release on their inherent strength of songwriting, using the eternal bonds in their community, families and friendships as a blueprint not only for an amazing standalone album, but as a reference for generations to come. “We hope that Imarhan will allow the younger generation to become aware of the fundamental importance of friendship. As long as someone is by your side supporting you, asking for your friendship, what more could you want out of life? You will want for nothing.”