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875232006423
Diwan 2

Details

Format: CD
Label: WRASSE RECORDS
Catalog: 181
Genre: Reggae/World
Rel. Date: 12/12/2006
UPC: 875232006423

Diwan 2
Artist: Rachid Taha
Format: CD
New: In Stock $16.98
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Reviews:

Like "soundscape" or "Beatle-esque," "surprising" is the sort of word lazy critics sling around so wantonly it hardly means much, if anything, in a review anymore. After all, how much music do you hear that genuinely surprises you? (In a good way, I mean). But the muted trumpet, dustily plucked oud, and keening female voice that begin "Ecoute Moi Comarade," the lead track on Diwan 2, were hardly what I expected from Rachid Taha, who was, after all, last heard growling "Rock the Casbah" in Arabic.

Taha has made a big noise worldwide over the past decade by orchestrating delirious collisions between the rai of his native Algeria and hard rock, techno, or whatever else they happen to be listening to these days in his new hometown of Paris.

But the native headdress that Taha sports on the album cover announces a return-to-roots, as does the album title itself. In 1998, before he plunged fully into his distinctive fusion maelstrom, Taha had wrenched Algerian traditions into the present with Diwan, a virtuoso tour of Arab musical history more respectful than you'd think if you heard it after, say, Khaled or Cheb Mami. And now, with this even more historically aware sequel, he may have topped it.

And like its predecessor, Diwan 2 never wusses out'"even when a kora plucks into earshot on the Cameroonian narrative of doomed interracial love, "Agatha." That's because there's nothing wussy about the Algerian musical tradition it wrestles with. (Well, nothing wussy that the French didn't introduce, anyway.) The gutturals are still gruff, the guitars still choppy, and the rhythms still as gritty and whirling as a Saharan sandstorm. With Diwan 2, Taha proves that intensity doesn't require electricity.