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Guitar Music from the Western Sahara

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Album Review

Initially released on vinyl in 2007 and then on CD the following year, Group Doueh's first formal album as such is actually a compilation drawing on literally decades of work by the band, led by Doueh himself, whose approach can be summed up (if somewhat oversimplified) as traditional music from his Western Sahara homeland, called Sahrawi music, played through the lens of classic '60s and '70s rock and funk, with Jimi Hendrix and James Brown mentioned by Doueh as particular touchstones. Doueh's spindly, often mesmerizing guitar performances perfectly capture the balance between the past and present that Sublime Frequencies looks for in general, so it's no surprise to see them behind the release of the collection; filmmaker Hisham Mayet sought out Doueh in his home city of Dakhla and recorded two of the selections, while the rest come from Doueh's tape archive, perhaps roughly recorded but no less powerful for that reason. The music is performed by the core quartet of Doueh, his wife Halima (vocals and tbal, a drum), their son Jamal on keyboards, and another singer, Bashiri, and the eight tracks showcased all rapidly establish the band's aesthetic for even a casual listener. Halima's high, clear singing rides above the loping guitar figures of her husband, alternating between core melodies and open-ended explorations that always stick to the groove; this is not a band supporting a soloist, but an ensemble. "Fagu" may begin with one of Doueh's most entrancing pieces, his guitar sounding like a snaky drone that then stops and starts almost like a glitch, but the vocals swirling around the music take it to a further level of beauty, while "Dun Dan" wouldn't be what it is if you couldn't hear Jamal's electronic beats punching through the performance at points. If "Eid el Arsh" is the group at its most exultant, the team of Halima and Doueh in full flight, then "Tirara" demonstrates the calmer side, Doueh's low-key work supporting the back and forth of Halima and Bashiri's handclaps and soft drumming.


Formed: Dakhla, Western Sahara

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Group Doueh play raw and unfiltered Sahrawi music from the former colonial Spanish outpost of the Western Sahara. Formed by guitarist-leader Salmou "Doueh" Bamaar (aka Doueh, pronounced “Doo-way”) in the early part of the 21st century, the core of the ever-evolving band also included his wife Halima. Doueh has been a performer for most of his life, beginning with rock groups he played in as a child. He claims his two biggest influences as Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. He began leading his own bands...
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Guitar Music from the Western Sahara, Group Doueh
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