Al Tall / Muluk el-Hwa

Xaeq Al-Andalos

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In this little-heard but arguably classic recording in the field of cross-genre fusion, Al Tall, the Catalan flamenco outfit, combines with Muluk el-Hwa, a Moroccan Gnawa ensemble. Despite the many similarities in rhythm and aesthetics, as well as geographical and historical distance, the two genres perhaps wouldn't be expected to work so well together. Nonetheless, the two forms fuse almost seamlessly here. Flamenco's palmas (handclapping) meet Gnawa's qaraqeb (metal castanets) for a versatile, organic rhythmic structure. Similarly, the guitarra flamenco and the ginbri fuse together well, with the ginbri generally providing a bassline for the guitar. Vocals are dominated by cante flamenco here, which is perhaps something of a letdown given the power of Gnawa ritual chant. Still, a fine album all around, and worth hearing for fans of either genre represented or for those seeking something completely different.