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Album Review

Bassist and producer Bill Laswell has always been a globe-hopper with a particular affection for North Africa, and here he shows up as a featured guest on the latest project from Pat Jabbar, a Franco-Swiss-Russian musician from Hamburg by way of Basel. This generously packed album is almost completely excellent from beginning to end: it features an exciting blend of traditional North African instruments and singing; hip-hop and reggae beats; multilingual rapping (in French and Arabic); drum loops and samples; and Laswell's sweet, fat, singing basslines. Nowhere do these elements come together more effectively than on the utterly slamming "Al Rafel," which showcases the tag-team rapping of the Marrakesh duo HS (brothers Hamza and Anass) and is built on a brilliantly simple hip-hop beat and embroidered with trashy synthesizers and multi-layered percussion instruments. "Bledstyle" features one of the very few interesting and enjoyable bass solos ever committed to tape, "Shta" juxtaposes a slowly grinding beat with choral vocals and strings, and on "Kasbah Rockers" singer Kamal builds the energy to a fever pitch over a bed of mixed acoustic and electronic instruments and a madly propulsive dance rhythm. A couple of weak tracks (notably the rather tedious reggae excursion "Shems") notwithstanding, this is a fantastic album overall.

Kasbah Rockers, Kasbah Rockers with Bill Laswell
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