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

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Bebel Gilberto

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Bebel Gilberto

Given her parentage – her father the famous composer/singer/guitarist Jaoa Gilberto and her mother the singer Miucha – it would have been harder for Brazilian bossa nova star Bebel... > Read more

Various Artists; Bossa Nova and the Story of Elenco Records, Brazil (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Various Artists; Bossa Nova and the Story of Elenco Records, Brazil (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

The Elenco bossa nova label -- founded in Rio de Janeiro in '63 -- gets this well-annotated Gilles Peterson-complied 23 track disc (and a booklet with an essay) of great tracks by guitarist Baden... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Jan Garbarek: Rites (ECM)

Jan Garbarek: Rites (ECM)

Norwegian saxophonist Garbarek scored a huge crossover album in 1995 with Officium which lined him up with the Hilliard Ensemble for an inspired marriage of the spiritual and the secular which... > Read more

Melbourne, Australia: Alt.shopping tips for those who don't shop, but buy

Melbourne, Australia: Alt.shopping tips for those who don't shop, but buy

People like me -- men mostly, I suspect -- don’t like shopping. We certainly buy things, but what some people call shopping seems to entail hours of looking with little to show for it.... > Read more