Friday, March 5, 2010

CD Review: Algeria's Hasna el Becharia

Hasna el Becharia
Smaa Smaa (Listen Listen)

The follow-up to the incredible 2001 album, Djazair Johara, Smaa Smaa, which means "listen listen" is an album born out of an innate connection with the Saharan desert. The result is a slightly more intimate and mature mold than the previous album. Algerian-born, Hasna, primarily plays the three-stringed guimbri instrument on both albums. The guimbri is an iconic instrument in Gnawa trance music. The guimbri's subdued lute tunings are played without frets, but metal rings are often added for a different, metallic sound with each strum of the fingers. The songs are sung in Arabic by Hasna, with instrumental accompaniment on the violin, darbuka, guitar, and bass. Hasna is accompanied by a few back-up singers on several tracks. Overall, Hasna has created yet another beautiful album of music from the sands of North Africa. The colorful digipack artwork and liner notes are in French and Arabic. ~ Matthew Forss

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