tue 18/06/2019

CD: Imed Alibi - Safar | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Imed Alibi - Safar

CD: Imed Alibi - Safar

Cinematic Arab vistas with a rock sensibility

Imed Alibi's succesful fusion of genres

Fusion – so ubiquitous in the music of our time - can be contrived or blessed. Imed Alibi’s debut album, a rich tapestry of North African, Turkish, Brazilian, Balkan and rock sensibilities, works a treat because nothing feels forced: the conjunctions are happy ones, creating a web of contrasting connections that flow with a sense of inevitability rather than irritatingly clash.

Built like a suite, “Safar” plays on changes of mood, each track leading into the next, with a perfectly judged sense of drama. There are widescreen cinematic moments, with multiple tracks built into a breathtaking wall-of-sound - Phil Spector à l’orientale with shades of Ennio Morricone - in the opener “Pour quelques dinars de plus”,  while the ney, violin and drum in the meditative “Nafass” evoke the slow-spiralling inward-focused movement of the Mevlevi dervish rituals.

The symphonic feel of many of the tracks, often strengthened by the well-timed alternation of tension and release, brings to mind the texture of the Middle Eastern and Egyptian orchestra – swirling violins with the romantic peals of delicate notes from the qanun.  Imed Alibi has played percussion in classical orchestras, as well as with Safy Boutella, Rachid Taha and Mercan Dede. For his first album, he is graced with collaborators who have realised his vision with outstanding sensitivity. The French composer and electronic keyboard wizard Stéphane Puech contributes an array of subtle digital effects as well as unobtrusive but effective orchestration. Justin Adams – along with producer Tim Oliver – brings a rock sensibility to the mix, powerful but never drowning in the usual metal guitar clichés.

What holds the album together – and distinguishes it from other attempts at global mix – are Imed Alibi’s strong roots in North African and Arab music. The lilting rhythms and melismatic musical lines anchor his explorations in a tradition that happens to combine extremely well with the energy and ecstatic soul of rock’n’roll.

What holds the album together is Imed Alibi’s strong roots in North African and Arab music

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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