Putamayo Presents: Acoustic Arabia
Featuring: Music of the Middle East and North Africa
Jarmal Porto, Egypt
Les Orientales, Algeria
Charbel Rouhana & Hani Siblini, Lebanon
Tiris, Western Sahara
Souad Massi, Algeria
Mousta Largo, Morocco
Maurice El Medioni, Algeria
Zein Al-Jundi, Syria
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 12, 2008
This CD touches the soul with its exoticism, sensuality, ethnic authenticity, and pure talent. The artists, vocal and performing, are rooted in the countries listed above, and each track is impassioned, mystical, and inspiring. Putamayo is renowned for its world music, such as Acoustic Africa, Cairo to Casablanca, and Music from the Coffee Lands. The listener is transported to one or more countries on each CD, and in Acoustic Arabia the artists present the true sounds and rhythms of their native cities and towns, even music of the desert.
#2 – Alger, Alger - Performed by Les Orientales. This track features elegant French lyrics in an homage to Algiers, with three female vocalists singing along with percussion, accordion, and guitars. The solo is a persuasive lament of longing for Paris and Algiers, with historical references.
#4 – Mada - Performed by Charbel Rouhana and Hani Siblini. This track is performed on oud and piano, with Lebanese musical roots. A sensual belly dance could definitely be danced to its undulating rhythms, and the simplicity of duo instrumentation emphasizes the purity of the genre.
#7 - Batalti Eli - Performed by Zaman. This Palestinian trio, performing Middle Eastern music, infused with flamenco and Gypsy Spanish elements, has been called the “Arabic Gipsy Kings”. Zaman’s music is less fragmented and percussive than the Brazilian Gipsy Kings, but the vocals are equally throaty, enticing, and dynamic. I could imagine a Samba or Flamenco danced to this song.
#8 - Les Larmes de Boabdil - Performed by Mousta Largo. The historical references of this Moroccan song reflect the tears shed by the last Arabic King of Grenada, as he looked for the last time at his homeland. To me, the music was very reminiscent of the music I heard in Istanbul. The group’s leader is Belgian-Moroccan, and his vocals combine with the wailing woodwind in meandering, mesmerizing melodies.
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