Abbar el Hamada

GB 031LP GB 031LP

LP version. Includes download code. 2016 release. Western Saharan musician and activist Aziza Brahim's second solo album, Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada), is a commanding and compassionate musical statement about, and for, the tumultuous age in which we live. Raised in a Saharawi refugee camp in the Algerian desert, and living in exile for more than two decades (first in Cuba and in Barcelona at the time of this release), Brahim's life and music embodies both the tragedies and hopes of the present-day migrant and refugee experience. As walls and borders are again being raised across the world, Aziza Brahim's passionately sung poetic defiance is especially timely and profound. Brahim's previous album, the resplendent Soutak (GB 009CD/LP, 2014), spent an unprecedented three months atop the World Music Charts Europe, and was the chart's top album for 2014. The album was also selected as one of Songlines magazine's "Top Ten" albums of the year and appeared on several other year-end lists. On Abbar el Hamada, Brahim has consciously extended her reach deeper into the sounds of contemporary West Africa. This move has been reinforced by the introduction of Senegalese percussionist Sengane Ngom and drummer Aleix Tobias (who has studied drumming in Gambia and Senegal) into her band, and the return of Malian guitarist Kalilou Sangare from the Soutak sessions. Bassist and arranger Guillem Aguilar and guitarist Ignasi Cussó also return from the previous band. Recorded in Barcelona in the summer of 2015 with Soutak producer Chris Eckman (Bassekou Kouyate, Tamikrest), Abbar el Hamada is a wholly persuasive example of Brahim's panmusical vision and her most compelling and varied album to date. From the pulsing desert rock of "Calles de dajla" and the Afro-Cuban inflections of "La cordillera negra" (evoking '70s recordings by the Super Rail Band) through the dusky elegance of "El canto del la arena" and the raw balladry of "Mani" (featuring Malian bluesmaster Samba Touré on guitar), the music and lyrics on Abbar el Hamada masterfully reflect the restless, imaginative search for home explicit in the album's title. "Hamada" is the word used by the Saharawi people to describe the rocky desert landscape along the Algerian/Western Saharan frontier where tens of thousands of their people are stranded in purgatorial refugee camps. "For me, Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada) is a title that synthesizes our destiny as a country over the last 40 years," Brahim explains. "We are suffering an injustice that condemns us to try and survive in an environment as inhospitable as the Hamada." Innovation, naked truth, humility, and political outcry: these are the raw materials of Aziza Brahim's ever-expanding musical vision. On Abbar el Hamada she fuses and fashions these elements into an unforgettable work that is both deeply inspired and deeply inspiring.