El Ndjoum album cover
El Ndjoum

Sofiane Saidi , Mazalda


This collaboration between Algerian-born, French based singer Sofiane Saidi and French supergroup Mazalda combines all the hypnotic energy of Raï with the funk and groove of Mazalda’s massive sound system, analog synths, low-slung basslines, and a spirited brass section. Saidi began singing first at weddings and then the legendary clubs of Oran when he was only a teenager, but eventually settled in France, where he expanded the limits of how he could play his particular brand of Raï — after all Raï has always been an amalgam of different styles. The tracks on El Ndjoum weave between the evocative North African atmospheres of “Wahidi Ana W Galbi’’ to the feverish 90s synths of “La classe Fi Las Vegas’’ and the electro-soul of “Bourkan,” inspired by Saidi’s hero Otis Redding, and featuring the wistful vocals of Julien Lesuisse, member of Mazalda and founder of Raï-inspired, Sicilian folk outfit Crimi.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio

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