“During the last few weeks, my friends and family have mistaken the work of Christine Abdelnour Sehnaoui for both a broken air conditioner and a car dying outside my window. I can’t say that I blame them. Her recordings call to mind unoiled hinges, deflating balloons, asthma attacks. This Parisian alto-saxophonist, born 31 years ago to Lebanese émigré parents, plays like music does not exist. When she performs live, Sehnaoui clamps her eyes tightly shut – an expression that speaks to the intensity of focus she applies to her challenging and surprisingly diverse oeuvre. . . Sehnaoui comes from a school of improvised music obsessed with the sonic possibilities of things.”

My article on Christine Abdelnour Sehnaoui for The National is now online. Ordinarily I harbor a strong dislike for the saxophone. But in Christine’s hands, it is pure weird gold. Continue reading.


in BRISTOL, a city chock-full of wonderful people and probably the best musical activity per capita anywhere. Staying at Chez Parasite & digging thru k7/cd shop finds from Paris. On tour you have time to catch up with friends but not yourself. Where was I 2 cities ago?


The Barbés neighborhood (Barbés Rochechouart stop on metro line 4) is overwhelmingly male, Arab and North African men men men on the streets, smoking, in silence and talking, with the brisk smuggled cigarette trade jostling Ramadan sweet stalls & bread, roast corn.

this first tune is the Algerian rap equivalent of Killah Priest’s Heavy Mental track. 9 minutes long! avant-gardey news collage to ambient hiphop to beat & snare. from Lotfi’s Double Kanon album. Lotfi is Algeria’s biggest rap star. I understand snippets of the French & Arabic but not not enough to be useful. Commentors? share your linguistic wisdom? I bought this at Etiole Verte on Rue Caplat. they were playing 50 Cent.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: world music is music with truly global reach. Think U2, Beyonce. So, 50 Cent is one of my favorite world music artists right now. Britney Spears used to make world music, but now she’s just world tabloid. Hmmm… anyhow, here’s what’s popping at the most experimental edge of mainstream Algerian rap.

Lotfi – Batard



this next one is scratchily recorded old chaabi, very beautiful, perfect for late night listening (in B’s flat, dark cathedral outline just beyond the window, as you sip rooibos and feel the city go quiet, ease into sleep, cover itself in patchy silence). CD lists his name as El Hadj Mohamed El Anka. Transliterated spelling is slippery however (Hadj M’hamed, El Hajj Muhammad, etc).

18 minutes long! Voice, oud, orchestra, abetted by time-keeping darboukas & tambourines.

this is familiar & dusty in a good way. Dusty: The CD slips into Sublime Frequency style tape hiss/filter weirdness and sudden shifts in quality. Released on Fassiphone, they must have compiled it from time-worn tape reels. Familiar: the song is one of his classics, “suffisent pour nous renseigner sur la grandeur d’un des plus grands piliers de la culture algérienne.” as said in this nice article on him from a Lounes Matoub fan site.

El Hadj Mohamed El Anka – Sobhane Allah Ya L-tif (suite)