Orchestre Nationale de Barbès

2007: Soudani 3130492

  1. Civilise
  2. Residence (Carte de residence)
  3. Khalti Hlima / خالتي حليمة
  4. Wawa
  5. Lila
  6. La Rose (Tu n’es plus comme avant) [Valse]
  7. Sympathy for the Devil
  8. Alik / اليك
  9. Madame
  10. La Rose (Tu n’es plus comme avant)

I like about half of this disc very much—a couple of tracks however get tiresome with their unvaried near-tribal rhythmic repetitions, whereas three others really grab me. “Sympathy for the Devil” as done by Orchestre National de Barbès is a hoot, being trilingual (verses in French and Arabic, choruses in English) and taking on a distinctly North African air about two thirds of the way through, and it has a nice beefy groove all the way through, solidly churning along with proper rock guitar. “Khalti Hlima” is more like a carnival ride, with odd bumps amid an otherwise steady 5:28-minute run to keep you always trying to get your footing and never being quite sure what way you’re facing. And the title track is a little nightmarish…after a jittery and uncertain pattern is laid down in the opening, it gets overlain with drumming that makes the core beat even less certain.

It was also great that they printed the lyrics to a few in Arabic; when I started trying to learn at least the basic alphabet forms, this CD’s booklet gave me something to use for recognition practice…but trying to follow along on “Alik” for example was a little mind-blowing, seeing all those letters going by so quickly in the opposite direction to what I’m used to!