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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

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Abdelli
Among Brothers
Real World

By TOM JACKSON

Published May 30, 2006

This album is like a giant game of “consequences.” Armed with basic tracks from Algerian vocalist and mandola player Abderrahmane Abdelli, producer Thierry van Roy set off on a three-year, four-continent journey recording accompaniments with traditional musicians. Each musician was unaware of what those before or after played, the outcome emerging only in the final mix. A parlor game on this scale leaves plenty of scope for drowning the original melodies or throwing the kitchen sink into the mix. Fortunately, that’s not the case here. Abdelli’s touching, beguilingly simple tunes and powerful, unmediated voice are treated with care. The international settings are lovingly assembled into a genuinely satisfying whole: a Moroccan violin melts into a cavaquino from Cape Verde, in turn bowing to a kanun from Azerbaijan. The mosaic also includes musicians from Burkina Faso, Chile, Argentina and Tunisia

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