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Berberism

Argan

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Album Review

Frankly, it's kind of hard, on a cursory listen, to distinguish this mix of Moroccan and Western elements from similar material that's been issued by other acts on the Barbarity label (including Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects, Ahlam, and Amira Saqati). Except, maybe, that this is on the whole blander. The traditional elements—the wailing vocals and the string instruments—hold a lot more interest than the routine electronic rhythms. That might be an unduly sour condemnation given that this sort of music is still in and of itself rather experimental within the Moroccan scene. But when you enter the international music community, you've also got to take into account that the standards become that much tougher. As pop-influenced world music goes, this simply isn't a standout.

Biography

Formed: 1996

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s

One of several Moroccan groups to record for the Swiss Barbarity label, which issues product centering around the vision articulated by another Moroccan outfit, Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects. A few AKJE principals, in fact, have secondary roles on Argan's first internationally distributed album, issued in 1996. Mixing electronic programming with banjo, darbukka, violin, and ney, the group draw from rai, Western dance music, and dub. It's not, however, as imaginative or risk-taking as some other...
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