Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997) album cover
Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staifi (1985-1997)

Various Artists

1985 - 1997
Les Disques Bongo Joe

This great Sofa Records / Bongo Joe compilation gives us a snapshot of the small but enormously influential North African music scene that centered around the cafés in the Croix-Rousse and Guillotière neighborhoods in Lyon. During the 80s and 90s musicians from all over North Africa, but especially the eastern part of Algeria, came together to play their own traditional music and experiment with new music technologies tlike cheap keyboards and rum machines. These spaces became a place of unique musical syncretism, where Berber chaoui music blended with Oran’s raï-pop, and staifi rhythms from eastern Algeria were adapted to disco and funk. The compilation features some major stars whose influence went far beyond Lyon, and had an impact on the development of France’s Maghrebi music as a whole. Zaidi El Batni for example is a pioneer in the modernization of chaoui music — something which comes through loud and clear on psychedelic opener “Malik ya Malik”, with its traditional rhythms and futuristic synths — while Nordine Staifi was the first to reinterpret staifi through a disco and funk lens. His “Zine Ezzinet” is an earwormy, funky killer tune.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio

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