Hassan Erraji: Awal Mara (World Village)

 |   |  1 min read

Hassan Erraji: Akhadh Aqli/She Blew My Mind
Hassan Erraji: Awal Mara (World Village)

One of the delights of "world music" is that it is a constant journey of discovery and so you have no qualms picking up an album by an unknown name (Hassan Erraji? Never heard of him myself) and taking a chance.

And in this case you stumble on someone you wished you'd discovered many years ago -- especially when you read in the liner notes he is "a man prone to oud-flailing a la Hendrix" and that he discovered the music of the Atlas Mountains as an early age while living near Marrakesh. He has also been blind since childhood.

Now living in Leeds after time in Belgium and what seems like quite some career in Arabic pop (three albums for Riverboat), he had this exciting oud-pop album recorded by Dave Creffield of the Kaiser Chiefs in their studio.

Erraji plays oud, violin, nay (Egyptian flute), keyboards and other things - but it is his keening, strong voice which grabs attention as much as the powerful rhythmic pulse from Ben Stevens on drums and Kenny Higgins on bass. Through overdubs there is a fullness to the sound here in places -- the gripping Haili Ayouma/Oh Dear Where Has My Love Gone? -- which sounds like a small Middle Eastern/North African orchestra.

The instrumental Samitat Ajam evokes those mountain villages -- maybe when the wedding party is winding down -- and Blani Alhawa is kind of exotic Marrakesh funk about a beautiful Arab girl (in translation: "When she comes walking, watch out. A burning sun, hot hot hot")

There is a sensible pop economy at work here too - noting much more than four minutes, most fewer -- and whether it be a yearing ballad or just a dancefloor puller, this is one of those albums you might be glad to have taken a chance on.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

Mike - Feb 15, 2011

His 1994 album, Marhaba, is well worth the listen. At that time he was recording with German band, Arabesque.

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

TARANAKI WOMAD 2016: THE ARTISTS' LINE-UP

TARANAKI WOMAD 2016: THE ARTISTS' LINE-UP

Regular Elsewhere followers will know how keen we are on world music -- we dedicate a whole area of the site to coverage -- which means Womad is always high on our agenda. In the past we have... > Read more

WOMAD ARTIST 2013; ABIGAIL WASHBURN INTERVIEWED: From Middle America to Middle Kingdom

WOMAD ARTIST 2013; ABIGAIL WASHBURN INTERVIEWED: From Middle America to Middle Kingdom

Abigail Washburn was always going to work in China, but along the way she changed the how and the why of it. She started out aiming to be lawyer working in Chinese-US relations and maybe even a... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST RADIO HOST GRAHAM DONLON offers his 101 classic albums

GUEST RADIO HOST GRAHAM DONLON offers his 101 classic albums

Responding to Elsewhere's recently posted all-inclusive Cornerstones collection -- 101 albums which could be the building blocks of a decent CD collection -- my 101 list includes all genres, it's... > Read more

QUINCY JONES INTERVIEWED (1990): The boss back on the block

QUINCY JONES INTERVIEWED (1990): The boss back on the block

Quincy Jones does quite put it this way, but he knows that with great power comes great responsibility. And Jones has great power because of a financial empire founded on an extra ordinary... > Read more