Aziza Brahim – Sahari

Album Review | Glitterbeat Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

The Algerian singer, actress and activist Aziza Brahim returns with Sahari, her fourth studio album and her third released on the Glitterbeat label, which once again reflects the tragedy, turmoil and tradition of her homeland. Far from the Saharawi refugee camps of the Tindouf region of Algeria, Brahim sets out her stall in Barcelona, her adopted home and once again delivers some of the most accessible music in the genre, with instantly memorable melodies and engaging rhythms throughout.  Her distinctive voice drives the songs along, reminding us that from tragic circumstances comes enchanting music, the words of which are really inconsequential, leaving the feel of the arrangements to do all the necessary communicating. 

The voice and the guitars are very much to the fore, underpinned by the tabal drum, which is effectively at the very heart of this music.  The title track itself is a good example of old traditional styles meeting head on with contemporary grooves, together with some highly infectious tribal vocal techniques. The same can be said for the arresting “Ard el Hub”. These songs can be trance-like in places, which is probably the best way to enjoy the music; to find the time and inclination to fully absorb yourself in these delightful rhythms. If the songs reflect the hardships and turmoil of music in exile, then the cover shot for Sahari, of a young girl dressed as a ballerina against a refugee camp background is utterly compelling, with optimistic young dreams captured right there against vivid blues skies. Wonderful. 

Choice Track: “Sahari” (NSV 489)