Mraya cover

A favorite on the 1990s “World Music” circuit, Abdel Ali Slimani was one of few Algerian musicians to settle in London (rather than France). Here he joined Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart band in 1991, and a few years later released his debut on Real World Records. Mraya is a polished listen as far as Raï goes, even in terms of its subject matter (Slimani said that his music was “very clean” and didn’t contain any of the suggestive language typical of Raï), but it does harness its trance-inducing grooves and percussive patterns. “Zeyna” and “Yasmin”  are classic Raï pop with their mix of synthetic dance rhythms and traditional instruments,  while “Hadi” swirls around a hypnotic vocal and accordion refrain, underpinned by the driving bass of Jah Wobble, who provides a dubby undertone to the whole album.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio