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

Goran Bregovic: Champagne for Gypsies (Cartel!)

Goran Bregovic: Champagne for Gypsies (Cartel!)

If everything on this album were as flat-tack as the boisterous opener with guests the Gypsy Kings, then you'd be breathless well before the midpoint. And, just a guess here, when Bregovic and His... > Read more

Mei Han and Red Chamber: Classical and Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music)

Mei Han and Red Chamber: Classical and Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music)

For Western ears, the sound of Chinese music falls into cliché (“Oh, Chinese music . . . riiight.”) or something so discordant (traditional opera) that it's easy to dismiss on a... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

VIETNAM IN 1969: A true story

VIETNAM IN 1969: A true story

In 1969, as an 18-year old, I went to Vietnam. Not to fight of course, but as a short-term "tourist". It was a brief event in a long life but confirmed for me even at that early age... > Read more

Jamie McDell, Crystal Palace, Auckland.  May 16, 2015

Jamie McDell, Crystal Palace, Auckland. May 16, 2015

In the many decades before television, people would dress up and go to the movies, and so there were cinemas in most small towns, and in the suburbs of major cities. In Auckland up until the... > Read more