Sofiane Saidi builds his music on Raï, which is a world music style created in Algeria in the 1920’s. The city it originated in, Oran, was known as ‘little Paris’, and Saidi himself, 17 years old, was forced to migrate to Paris fleeing the FIS and terror in Algeria. The musical style is based on raï, which is translated to Opinion or Advice, and in this the lyricists create and improvise lyrics over music. This format allows the music to be an open dialogue and expression of the musician towards the audience and forms an interesting dynamic, where the performer is performing for the audience,allowing for a unique expression and connection. This engulfment of the listener into the music is what associates it with the Tarab style.
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In Paris, Saidi was met with a new scene of people on the streets, some of them musicians. The people he was meeting are what were called ‘more dangerous, less naive’. It is then clear how his music presents such an emotional and lyrical strong style that translates past language into expression. The second part of the ensemble is Mazalda, a six piece group of musicians with a large rhythm section and variation of instruments that are grounded in a familiar traditional sound, creating a modern and experimental sound. Through presenting a human version of what machines would play, there is a new take on the old, and even the new old.
The music itself feels traditional and formal in its structure and subject, but through the use of electronic instruments and a heavy bass line stringing everything together, a rather funky take is had on what is quite serious and intense. This allows for a more playful and fun aspect to the music and a more improvised feeling. Due to this electronic heavy sound the music feels reminiscent of the 80’s and the Raï music of then, yet the vocals speak of today on yesterday. The music itself in its heavy 80’s inspired synthetic noise still does not feel old, it maintains a fresh funk sound that demands the listener pay attention to it and sway with it. The joint group efforts produce an album and performance that is based on a world music history, that is local but not exclusive.
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