Musique de France by Acid Arab

Release date: October 14, 2016
Label: Crammed Discs

Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho, resident DJs at Paris’ Chez Moune, have been putting out EP’s through the Versatile label for a while now, compiling remixes, collaborations and the odd original track featuring dance music which combines with the rich Middle Eastern and North African influences now to be found in their city. With a ‘does-what-it-says-on-tin’ band name, Acid Arab, and a bold but entirely truthful album title Musique de France, this serves a celebration of the trans-cultural melting pot that is modern-France, and is perhaps a statement of defiance in the face of recent atrocities.

Lead-out track ‘Buzq Blues’ has been available for a while, possibly due to it’s quick, commercial dynamics, which calls to mind old school organically-minded techno of The Orb meets FSOL variety, before Asian-style stringed instruments emerge. It soon breaks down into very simple thudding beats before the expected build towards the end. It doesn’t quite provide the pay off your hoping for, but it’s a decent introduction.

Things move to another level on ‘La Hafla’ which features raï fusion pioneer Sofiane Saidi – and now, world music fans, enters the oud in a style familiar to any followers of Omar Souleyman, although Sofiane’s vocals have a more guttural, street timbre, giving a slight hip hop flavour. It’s an absolute banger whatever side of the globe your coming from. It ends abruptly and waaay too soon!

Not everything here is a dance floor anthem, ‘Medahat’ is mildly trippy at first, like hearing a souk through the door of a nightclub at 5am, but then a much stronger, almost industrial synth and beats take over, like a ticking bomb. It’s atmospheric and effective, although other moodier moments, such as ‘Houria’ featuring Rachid Taha, a glowering dub fever dream, lacks substance, despite aiming for Massive Attack-style menace.

Generally more successful when trying to get the party started, tracks like video single ‘Sarayat 303’ and ‘Le Disco’ really do excite. ‘Le Disco’ is another oud-tastic mash-up with harsh blasts of the synthesised oud snaking over galloping percussion. It’s pretty mental and reminds me of Daft Punk circa their Alive 1997 album. ‘Sarayat 303’ is an attempt to really build a banger on the back very basic beats and samples and does have a stronger acid house style than most and probably works really well in a club.

Other highlights include; ‘Stil’ featuring Cem Yildiz on vocals and saz playing. As thuggish slow bass beats and a vocal that is half disco chant, half prayer, it builds in a most powerful way and will have your head nodding in a moody rap style, and closer ‘Tamuzica’ which loses western beats almost entirely, at first more of a North African, gnawa inspired traditional song with hand claps and optimistic, spiritual vocal by Jawad El Garrouge. But then, magically, fantastically cool Can-esque retro futurist synth lines occasionally rise and fall. It’s a lovely and otherworldly as ‘Stil’ is earthy and tough.

There are a couple of occasions where the track is less than the sum of its parts, but in general this is a wonderful, classy blend, like the best, darkest coffee, sipped kerbside at your favourite cafe.

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