Friday, August 12, 2011

CD Review: Algeria's Beihdja Rahal 'In The Mood For The Nouba'

In The Mood For The Nouba [2 CD]

The 2-CD set by Algeria's Beihdja Rahal is an excellent example of Arab-Andalusian musical poetry. Steeped in tradition, nouba music consists of vocal and instrumental segments with melodic lines in specific modes. In this case, there are twelve different modes, which can be compared structurally to the more common muqam. Beihdja incorporates a traditional repertoire of oud, kwitra, qanun, tar, violin, and darbuka. The first CD contains ten songs for the nouba M'danba. Beihdja's soaring vocals rise up and over the background instrumentation at times, but that does not mean the instruments do not shine. In fact, there are numerous instrumental pieces with spritely melodies and Central Asian-like musicalities. The second CD continues in the nouba traditions with the Mazmum mode. There are twelve separate songs included. Overall, Beihdja is as powerful and enigmatic as Om Kulthum or Ofra Haza, with a slightly more traditional foundation. ~ Matthew Forss

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