Acting Salam

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Bill Laswell co-produced this album with Pat Jabbar and plays bass on a few of the tracks. Whether due to Laswell's influence or not, this has a smoother, more dancefloor-polished feel. As Europe and North America already have electronic dance music by the cartload, it would seem as though Ahlam would stand a better chance of attracting interest by maintaining their Middle Eastern-North African influences, not diluting them. It may be the direction the musicians want to pursue, but world music fans will likely much prefer Ahlam's debut album to this competent, but less imaginative, compound of casbah sounds with 1990s beats. It should be said that the lyrics (some of which are translated in the sleeve) are still pretty radical statements in the context of Moroccan society, advocating peace and struggle for justice, and declaring, "We're fed up with war and destructive ideologies." Most open-minded listeners will agree -- but do they want to dance to it?

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