Album: Rachid Taha <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Diwan 2, WRASSE
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The Independent Culture

A belated follow-up to his 1998 classic Diwan, Rachid Taha's latest again pairs the French-Algerian with producer Steve Hillage, once guitarist with proto-trance pranksters Gong, on a selection of songs old and new designed to offer a survey of North African styles and concerns. Musically, this accommodates everything from the cascades of kora glissandi on "Agatha" to the blend of ney flute and oud on "Rani", with the breathiness of Kadi Bouguenaya's Gasbar Oranais lending a wonderful grainy texture to the hypnotic desert-blues of "Josephine" and "Ah Mon Amour". Contrary to the edgy attitudes of some rai music, there's an underlying good humour and liberality to several songs: in "Agatha", a cuckolded husband makes light of his wife's light-skinned baby ("Oh pals, it's better to take it for a joke/ No need to cry for so little matter"), while there's more humour in Taha's corpsing chuckle in "Ecoute Moi Camarade", whose reggae-beat groove, Arabic strings and muted jazz trumpet is the CD's most intriguing crossover.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Ecoute Moi Camarade', 'Josephine', 'Rani', 'Agatha'

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