the quarter tone zone

Quarter tones are the new cool :: featuring music from all around the Mediterranean and eastwards, with a strong bias for melodrama, synthesizers tuned to the Arab scale and celebrating trashy pop music!

Saturday, 31 March 2007

deserved world music hype :: Fadela & Sahraoui Nsal fik

In the late 1980s, Algerian raï was hyped in world music circles as the next big thing, and hip magazines like The Face featured orientalist articles glamourising Oran youth arriving at seedy seaside nightclubs in Mazda convertibles to listen to the latest hedonistic raï stars. In November 1987, Factory Records (the independent label associated more with New Order and the like than world music) released Nsal fik نسال فيك, credited to Fadela فضيلة. (That her name is misspelt in Arabic on the cover is probably due to the fact that many Algerians are more fluent in written French than in written Arabic.)

Nsal fik was actually a duet with Fadela's husband Sahraoui سحراوي, and on the still great (and available!) 1988 compilation Rai rebels they are credited together. This collection of late 1980s Oran favourites was followed up with the 1990 release Rai rebels volume two: Pop-rai and Rachid style, which is also a raï must.

Incidentally, these two compilations was probably the first time audiences outside North Africa and France were exposed to Algeria's first crossover star Khaled خالد, whose Didi became a world hit a few years later. The track Sidi Boumedienne سيدي بومديان is dub-infused raï at its best, putting the "orchestral hit" synthesizer button to the greatest use ever!

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