Natacha Atlas: Mounqaliba/In a State of Reversal (World Village)

 |   |  <1 min read

Natacha Atlas: Batkallim
Natacha Atlas: Mounqaliba/In a State of Reversal (World Village)

This great interpreter of Arabic music has made a number of appearances at Elsewhere for her sinuous voice and often remarkable songs. She could hold her own with TransGobal Undergrounds in the electronica-beat-driven world music end of the spectrum but her more traditional albums were much more persuasive.

This time out she goes for a broad conceptual piece with a large Turkish ensemble which brings together traditional songs, a version of Nick Drake's River Man which slides in seamlessly other than the noticeable feature of it being mostly in English, some originals and a version of Francoise Hardy's La Nuit est sur la Ville. 

Annoyingly however there are also spoken word interpolations (by various English-speaking "philosophers?") and interludes.

Musically this is as interesting as ever -- the chief player is string arranger and co-writer Samy Bishai -- and the discreet electronic touches (staccato chatter in Batkillam) act as a neat counterpoint to the swooning strings and Atlas' syrup-like melodic slides.

But with a few exceptions not much here really grips and those interludes ("show how a resource-based economy proposes direct solutions") sit at strange odds with the music. Sort of a concept album, but one with a very unclear agenda?

A disappointment. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Tinariwen: Amajdar (Anti/digital outlets)

Tinariwen: Amajdar (Anti/digital outlets)

Elsewhere has written about Tinariwen so often that we will come at this new album from another angle. The title apparently means “the unknown visitor” in their Tamashek... > Read more

Various Artists: Gambian Griot Kora Duets (Smithsonian Folkways)

Various Artists: Gambian Griot Kora Duets (Smithsonian Folkways)

The magical and mercurial sound of the kora – a 21-string instrument from West Africa has become familiar on the Womad circuit in the past few decades and names like Toumani Diabate, Seckou... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Bob Dylan: Positively 4th Street (1965)

Bob Dylan: Positively 4th Street (1965)

When you have guitar, a voice, a studio and an expectant audience -- and some degree of vitriol to be delivered -- why would you not fire off this bitter salvo at former friends you might feel... > Read more

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

Bassist (electric and acoustic), composer and arranger Atwill pulls together the cream of New Zealand jazz players (including Ron Samsom, Carolina Moon, Kevin Field and Kim Paterson) for this... > Read more