sun 21/07/2024

Album: Bab L'Bluz - Swaken | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Bab L'Bluz - Swaken

Album: Bab L'Bluz - Swaken

Fiery psychedelia to lift your soul coming straight out of the Maghreb

'Swaken': Revolutionary sounds

Bab L’Bluz are a French-Moroccan four-piece that play a tasty blend of fiery psychedelic rock backed up with hypnotic North African gnawa rhythms. Featuring electric awisha lute, guembri, percussion and castanet-like qraqeb rather than more mainstream instruments, they tackle subjects like gender inequality and call for unity and tolerance – while getting hips swinging and feet stomping in a frenzied groove.

Swaken is Bab L’Bluz’s second album and features Yousra Mansour’s emotive vocals and riff-heavy awisha lute backed by a giddy trance-rock sound that owes as much to Led Zeppelin’s heavy blues rock as to the indigenous tunes of the Sahara Desert and the southern shore of the Mediterranean. This is energetic stuff that doesn’t so much invite listeners to get up and get with it but clearly doesn’t expect any other reaction. Yet, Mansour’s lyrics also have plenty to say about subjects such as the frustrations of living in a patriarchal society, of the necessity of standing up to those who cause suffering to others and for the need to celebrate the richness of living in an ethnically diverse society.

“IWAIWA FUNK” is a reminder that life is short, resentment is futile and that dancing is good for the soul, “AmmA” a rallying call against sexism and the oppression of women everywhere. “Imazighen” is a wild and trippy feast for the ears that exposes the foolishness of racism and fascism, while “Karma” brings a splash of Arab-Andalusian flavour to the party. In short, the tunes on Swaken are firmly aimed at raising souls up and spreading smiles all around, bringing peace and harmony for all.

As with Mali’s Mdou Moctar and others from the Global South, Bab L’Bluz are more than happy to confront injustice and to get people dancing at the same time. In fact, they seem to view it as an obligation. It’s a shame that more musicians in the West aren’t doing the same.

This is energetic stuff that doesn’t so much invite listeners to get up and get with it but clearly doesn’t expect any other reaction

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters