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Album Review

From the Algerian expatriate (now in France) Takfarinas comes this album of Kabyle songs. At first listen, one might note a thick relation to Algeria's primary export: rai. As it happens however, this music stands as part of a movement to counter the popularity of rai from the Amazighs. There are similarities with to be found with rai, but the overall music is much more broadly influenced, with highly noticeable bits of flamenco, jazz, and perhaps zouk wandering into the main sound throughout the course of the album. The album starts out with perhaps the most rai-like number in "Zaama Zaama," then moves quickly into a showcase of musical diversity as song after song contains a little motif or two from the various styles that are thrown into the pot. "Ayessiyi" contains a bit of Tamazight rapping, "Lounes" makes use of some soulful saxophone work, and "Tanoumi" stands as a good example of the shaabi genre. The lyrics are largely in Tamazight, though there is some French as well, always with the tenacious North African vocal techniques. The songs deal largely with love themes, mildly different from the usual political fare in the Kabyle (Amazigh) forms. With the breadth of sound involved in this album, it makes a perfect item to pick up for those looking for something Algerian that isn't rai.


Genre: World

Years Active:

Takfarinas was born not long before the rai revolution of Algeria in a predominantly Kabyle (one of the prime Berber groups in the area) region of the Algiers districts. Picking up Arabian, Algerian, French, Spanish, and English songs on the radio, his influences were many, but primarily regional forms with touches of influence from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Edith Piaf. Supported by his father, he trained on a makeshift guitar or two before moving up to an actual instrument, then quickly went...
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Yal, Takfarinas
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