Albums

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Raï - Released December 15, 2011 | Jasmine

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Raï - Released October 18, 2010 | UGOP

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Raï - Released September 16, 2010 | Creative source

Raï - Released July 30, 2010 | Creative source

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Raï - Released July 4, 2010 | Creative source

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Raï - Released May 19, 2010 | Domina Productions

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Raï - Released March 3, 2010 | Creative source

Raï - Released September 4, 2009 | Synkop Production

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Raï - Released July 22, 2009 | Creative source

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Raï - Released July 3, 2009 | Creative source

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Raï - Released July 3, 2009 | Les Disques Caractère Sonodisc

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Raï - Released June 10, 2009 | Creative source

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Raï - Released July 25, 2008 | Maghrebeen Productions

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Raï - Released March 3, 1996 | Rue bleue

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Call Sawt el Atlas the younger brothers of Orchestre National de Barbes on the strength of this impressively varied debut album by the Paris-based group, with its creative core drawn from two families. It's the music of second generation immigrants drinking from North African roots influences, filtered through growing up amidst the cosmopolitan musical mix of Paris. The opening song, "Zmane," sets the tone: it's got a solid R&B/funk groove, then drops in a house piano lick, then some rai-derived Arab pop vocals over racing djerbouka beats, and finally, some heavy guitar punctuation. The reggae-inflected verses also incorporate trade-offs between the lead vocalists, and from synth to clavinet keyboard lines. Got all that? Good, because it's typical of the wide range of influences on Generaliser, although the title of "Ragga Raï" really sums up the base of the sound -- it's a funky ragga-rai-reggae party. The key is how well Sawt el Atlas handle all their different style moves and sonic touches. The arrangements are well-crafted, full of changes and details without overplaying them; the needs of the songs rule, and the music flows unforced and organic. Sawt El Atlas have obviously thought everything through -- the songs go well beyond riff and groove formulas -- but nothing is gratuitous, and all that thinking hasn't squeezed dry the life and emotion in the music. The title track leans toward the rai side: mixed funky bass and JB-scratch rhythm guitar, before throwing in a pushing ragga transition. The keyboard atmospherics of "Arde Lille" -- the title ("Lille Is Burning") makes you wonder about social commentary in the lyrics -- give way to upbeat rai, driven by strong vocals, phat bass, and drums crackling on the offbeat. The easy-skanking "Rabra Bina" returns to the ragga-rai home base blend, "Immigré" sports a sunny Jamaican groove, and fine singing and sensitive djerbouka on "Natchtou" shows that the group can adroitly handle a ballad. The uptempo "Amri" veers closer to funk, and "Sbabi" opens with heavy slide guitar before veering into an intriguingly strange half-funkin', half-skankin' groove, with djerbouka filling in the spaces. But Sawt El Atlas make it work, which you've come to expect by this point, on a very mature and confident debut that avoids false steps or shaky moves. ~ Don Snowden

Raï - Released September 20, 2007 | Buda musique

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Raï - Released April 3, 2006 | GPM

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects

Raï - Released January 1, 2006 | ARC

Booklet
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Cheb Nacim, not really known in the same league as the other current stars of rai (such as Cheb Mami) or even the slightly older generation (Faudel, Cheb Hasni, Rachid Taha), still packs a punch on this, what would appear to be his first album on the world market. The style is musically complex, eschewing the pure keyboard and string power of much rai and ignoring some of the rock-based punches of the more modern, rebellious end of the genre as well. While keyboards and strings are certainly present and add accentuation when needed, much of the instrumentation is a little more electronic, a little more sparse, a little more clipped. Vocally, Nacim uses a style similar in many ways to Cheb Hasni, a strong influence in his development. With the additional support of Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thornton (who remixes a pair of songs at the end of the album as well), there are extra influences built into the music with Indian characteristics, with Egyptian characteristics (the doumbek in particular), with bits of jazz and rock. The songs here are a mix of originals, Hasni pieces, and pieces written by Dahmane el Harrachi. Nonetheless, the sound is relatively stable throughout. Overall, the performances are quite good. The music is a bit flat for rai, missing some of the sheer power and emotion that can make the genre so powerful. Nacim's vocals are well-developed, but again somewhat flat. There is emotion present, but not enough to convey the depths aroused by the themes of the works. A nice album, but pick up some of the masters first. ~ Adam Greenberg
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Raï - Released November 28, 2005 | GPM

Raï - Released September 10, 2001 | Warner Strategic Marketing

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Raï - Released October 29, 2004 | RCA Records Label

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