Imarhan Timbuktu

Akal Warled

by Steve Horowitz

5 August 2014


Desert Music

cover art

Imarhan Timbuktu

Akal Warled

US: 18 Mar 2014
UK: 5 May 2014

The group Imarhan Timbuktu combines traditional Saharan sounds and contemporary Western music to create a very strange and likeable sound. They come from Timbuktu, hence their name, and have toured the globe during the last 20 years to promote their heritage and culture. The band incorporates acoustic percussion with electric instruments to craft swirling rhythms that do more than cause one to dance; it inspires one to think and reflect on the strangeness of the world. The vocals range from straightforward singing to high pitched yodeling as if the late Don Walser came from West Africa instead of West Texas. It’s downright catchy and begs for repeated listening.

The group’s leader, Mohamed Issa Ag Oumar El Ansari, plays electric guitar as if he’s trying to catch a hissing snake, while his younger brother, sisters, and friends keep the rhythms, bass and percussion moving. The songs themselves address everything from living in exile—the title tune translates as “Foreign Country” and according to the liner notes address the situation of the Tuareg people living in exile—to the beauty and importance of women. Not understanding the language does not impede one’s appreciation of the disc. The music speaks for itself in a more universal way than the meaning of the words ever can.

Akal Warled


We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media

Call for Music Writers... Hip-Hop, Soul, Electronic, Rock, Indie, Americana, Jazz, World and More

// Announcements

"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…

READ the article