With his previous album, Tékitoi, providing some outstanding contemporary ideas in the realm of rai, Rachid Taha returns on Diwan 2 to more rootsy sounds, reminiscent (of course) of Diwan. The sound is derived from some of Taha's musical influences: largely from Algeria and the exile population in France, but with a couple of originals, some French influences, and a couple from Egypt. The album starts out with an old piece from Mohamed Mazouni and a much more relaxed tone than many of Taha's opening tracks on other albums. After a quick romp through a bit of music from Oran, he returns to a relaxed sound with "Agatha," a piece on racism and interracial adultery, before moving on to a form of slightly higher-energy chaabi, "Kifache Rah" (with some musical similarity to the massive hit "Ya Rayah"). The energy finally picks up to his usual levels with some ney, call and response, and thicker drums on "Josephine." "Gana El Hawa," as well as Umm Kulthum's classic "Ghanni Li Shwaya," provide an opportunity for the Cairo String Ensemble to come into their own as accompaniment (though indeed they are present on a number of tracks besides the Egyptian ones). Throughout the album, the mood is perhaps more relaxed, but also more somber than in many of his previous works. The energy never rises too high, and seems nearly suppressed when it does get closer to his standard levels. The focus is entirely on the structure of the music and the references to the past, both musical and historical. Still, an excellent album by any standard. It does seem like Taha is quietly unwound on this recording, trading anger for melancholy.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg