Débruit & Alsarah: Aljawal الجوال (Soundway, 2013)

January 17, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Débruit & Alsarah: Aljawal الجوال

Débruit & Alsarah: Aljawal الجوال

Beautiful cross-cultural collaboration between French producer Débruit and Sudanese singer Alsarah. Broken, left-field choppy hip-hop meets lovely vocals in Arabic. Sort of like a modern update on Ofra Haza, solo or as being sampled by Coldcut while remixing Eric B. & Rakim. Some traditional instruments and melodies, and lots of drum machines and off-kilter synth rhythms. Some uptempo juke-influenced crazy hi-hat moments, but overall pretty steady, forward-thinking and exciting. Definitely avoids a lot of the east-meets-west cliches that have made most ’90s “world music” sound completely dated today. If you’re more interested in this because of Alsarah’s vocals than Débruit’s production, check out “Jamilla X.0 ٣. X.0 جميلة”, which is mostly a capella except for some minimal bass and lots of spacey echo, and “Loulia لولية” , which is just vocals except for some minimal percussion. Alsarah sits “Khartoum خرطوم” out, however, instead letting Débruit chop up vocal samples over a frenetic juke beat. “Jibal Alnuba جبال النوبة” also has more of a relatively straightforward beat and gorgeous vocal performance from Alsarah, which is combined with some vocal effects towards the end. “Alsahra الصحراءة” is a less lyrical, more danceable track, revolving around a haunting distorted vocal loop. “Hawya هوية” ends the album on another minimal note, with fluttering vocals layered on top of gentle, chipper synths and strumming, doused with plenty of delay. The whole album is just a really creative, unforced, natural sounding blend of different sounds and cultures.

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