Label (Year): Nawa Recordings (2015)
For Fans of: Tinarewen, Gnawa Diffusion, Doudou N’Diaye Rose
Words by Lexy Morvaridi
Alif is a collective of musicians pushing the sound of contemporary independent music in the Arab world. Their name derives from the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, setting the precedent for an album that firmly places the listener in a world of innovative Arabic instrumentation.
Combining the traditional with the contemporary, Aynama-Rtama (translated as Wherever It Falls) is rhythmically charged through the electronic artistry of Maurice Louca, layering each track with interesting beats and synth lines that play off of Khaled Yassine’s percussion. The beautiful sounds of Khyam Allami’s oud decorate each track, while Tamar Abu Ghazaleh’s vocals bring life to his lyrics and modern Arabic poetry, evoking touching emotion with each and every melody.
The reverse loop on ‘Dars Min Kama Sutra’ (‘Lesson from Kama Sutra’) adds a psychedelic element to the track, while the combination of the oud and buzuq instruments and a synthesiser on ‘Al-Juththa’ (‘The Corpse’), create an ambience that is both chilling and chilled. The spacey synth sounds that are layered over the traditional instrumentation on ‘Al-Khutba Al-Akhira’ (‘The Last Declamation’) showcase the polyrhythmic talents of each musician, demonstrating their distinct sound.
Released on Nawa Recordings, the individual artists’ solo projects are also well worth a listen. By successfully weaving literacy and music, traditional and contemporary, Alif deliver an intriguing and varied take on Middle Eastern music.