Akim El Sikameya

Introducing Akim el Sikameya

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Algerian-born singer and violinist Akim El Sikameya has a unique voice. It's high but full -- until you get used to it, it's easy to believe you're listening to a female. Add to that his take on Arab-Andalusian melodies, often veering into jazz (as on "Amertume") and you have a very interesting figure. There are love songs, controversial lyrics against the dangers of fundamentalism -- which forced him to move to France in 1994 -- all cast in the general musical framework (it's worth pointing out that this album isn't really an introduction -- he's had three previous CDs). That he's accomplished is beyond doubt, as "Ya Waadi" won an award in 2007, and his band is very tight, mixing roots (accordion and bouzouki) with the more modern or even unusual (charango and saxophone). The problem is that much of the music comes out sounding quite homogenous. There are a few moments of distinction, but far too often it's simply bland, no matter how well it's played. That's unfortunate, because there's obviously a talent here trying to get out.

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