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Absorbing taste of world music.

Imarahan at The Independent, Sunderland Desert blues rockers Imarahan fuse Algerian and nomadic Touareg traditions with psychedelic electric blues, adding elements of jazz and funk for extra spice.

Their home is Tamanrasset in southern Algeria, an oasis city high in the Ahaggar mountains that is the centre for the country's Touareg population. Quite a contrast to Sunderland.

The band appeared from a side door dressed in western clothing which could be described as 1960s hippy.

Apparently their view is that they should wear on stage what young people in Tamanrasset wear. This differs from many of their contemporaries who perform in traditional clothing.

Some members of the band had traditional percussion instruments - a large ball mounted in what appeared to be a bowl and a djeme, a drum shaped like a large goblet covered in animal skin. The rest played electric guitars and bass.

They started the evening with a slow, laid-back track which pulsated with a hypnotic rhythm.

Their music centres on a swirling, raw electric guitar sound with plenty of delay.

As the concert progressed, vocal harmonies, which could perhaps be compared to religious chanting, added depth to the sound.

The upstairs room at the Independent is small and it was also hot and sweaty but it provided the opportunity to get close to the band.

For me, this added to the evening. It enabled me to see how they create the clicking percussion sound that I have heard used by other bands including Tinariwen (also formed in Tamanrasset in 1979).

The answer is a sleeve similar to a blues guitarist's bottle that fits on the percussionist's finger.

Sadly, opportunities to see world music are scarce in the North East.

To see a band like Imarahan in such an intimate setting was a glorious oneoff and the audience was totally absorbed throughout.

I hope the band returns to the region soon. Next time, I reckon, it will be in a larger venue.

Martin Ellis

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:6ALGE
Date:Sep 10, 2016
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