Diwân 2 sees Rachid Taha reclaiming the older tunes of his childhood –but not without occasional touches of his angry punk persona surfacing just in time to avoid nostalgia
In contrast to the more in your face Tekitoi, he has gone for traditional instruments like the gasba (flute) and guellal (percussion) to get the sound he was after. The stand out track though is not one of the rediscovered classics, as good as they are, it is the anti-racist anthem ‘Agatha’. With its catchy-as-hell chanted lyrics, a rolling bass and distinctively Arabic strings, this tune is one guaranteed to have you singing along irrespective of your level of French. Assuming your French is as rusty as mine, you’ll be pleased to see that the lyrics have been translated and recount a tale of doubted parentage told with a dark and drunken humour.
The album opens with ‘Ecoute-moi camarade’, which Rachid Taha (and this sounds like a Freudian metaphor) apparently discovered while rifling his parents attic. As with ‘Agatha’, there is more feminine treachery afoot as the poor lover tries to talk himself out of being in love with a woman he suspects is cheating on him. Again we have a crashing chorus to carry the song along and no doubt both these tracks will do the business in France (why oh why can’t we ever hear music like this on our most popular radio stations? Do they think we are all fools?)
Before you assume, Rachid Taha is exercising a misogynist tendency, the rest of the tracks deal with epic loves and the experiences of the many caught between cultures and on some tracks he covers off both as in ‘Gana el Hawa’.
The album was recorded in London, Paris and Cairo and sees him back with studio whiz and legend in his own right Steve Hillage. Rachid Taha is an artist at the top of his game with the people around him to get the job done.
Whether you are a lover of Khaled and fancy something a bit rougher or were blown away by this African soul rebel’s last album and want to hear him explore the sounds of his native Algeria further, this is an essential album. Buy it now and you can look all superior when it cleans up at the World Music Awards next year.
Rachid Taha – Diwân 2 is out in the UK 23 October on Wrasse Records (Wrasse 181) also on Barclay / Universal
1. Ecoute Moi Camarade
2. Rani M’Hayer
4. Kifache Rah
6. Gana El Hawa
7. Aah Mon Amour
8. Mataouel Delil
10. Ghanny Li Shwaya
Wrasse Records (including soundclips)