Today’s song is the title track from Gaâda Diwane de Béchar‘s album Ben Bouziane. The France-based musicians hail from Béchar western Algeria, btwn the Sahara and the Atlas (mountains), natural setting for their afro-Maghrebi sound. Usually i’m burnt-out on anything that could be considered gnawa fusion, but Gaâda, at least on this cassette, nail it consistently with crisp original arrangements and tight playing (“le groupe a conçu son monde autour d’une relecture moderne de presque toutes musiques africaines” explains their MurdochSpace blurb).
Which reminds me: anybody know of a good cheap place to take French lessons in NYC? I’m tired of bluffing my way thru francophone websites & conversations…
They namecheck Nass El Ghiwane & Tinariwen as influences (Tinariwen also namecheck NeG as an influence), partaking in north Africa’s excellent tradition of what you could call ‘cosmopolitan roots’: bands repping the local (one amazing travel web writes “Béchar is the largest town in the western part of Algerian Sahara, and the administrative centre of the Saoura region. That’s more or less it. A place to stop, use as a base, stock up on food. But there is nothing at all to see here.”) while doing a self-conscious ‘relecture moderne’ (modern rereading, right?) of various relevant musical traditions, played on acoustic instruments, but wired into MySpace & the French world music market.
Local is good, but French concert revenue and arts funding is better. These are non-exclusive entities, and we are the richer for it.
(Homage to Germaine Tillion, Southern Algeria, 1938-39, Dr John 2005 creativecommons flickr.)
Also check his Migrados series, “A current project documenting the experiences of migrants in Spain, the spaces they occupy, their journeys, and the traces that they leave behind”. from which comes the following, Immigrant Wall Drawing, Madrid, Spain, Nov 2003. Lavapiés no less: