Cheb Nacim

Algerian Rai

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Cheb Nacim, not really known in the same league as the other current stars of rai (such as Cheb Mami) or even the slightly older generation (Faudel, Cheb Hasni, Rachid Taha), still packs a punch on this, what would appear to be his first album on the world market. The style is musically complex, eschewing the pure keyboard and string power of much rai and ignoring some of the rock-based punches of the more modern, rebellious end of the genre as well. While keyboards and strings are certainly present and add accentuation when needed, much of the instrumentation is a little more electronic, a little more sparse, a little more clipped. Vocally, Nacim uses a style similar in many ways to Cheb Hasni, a strong influence in his development. With the additional support of Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thornton (who remixes a pair of songs at the end of the album as well), there are extra influences built into the music with Indian characteristics, with Egyptian characteristics (the doumbek in particular), with bits of jazz and rock. The songs here are a mix of originals, Hasni pieces, and pieces written by Dahmane el Harrachi. Nonetheless, the sound is relatively stable throughout. Overall, the performances are quite good. The music is a bit flat for rai, missing some of the sheer power and emotion that can make the genre so powerful. Nacim's vocals are well-developed, but again somewhat flat. There is emotion present, but not enough to convey the depths aroused by the themes of the works. A nice album, but pick up some of the masters first.

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