Noura Mint Seymali – Arbina (Glitterbeat Records)
LP / CD / DL
Review by the Unarmed Bandit.
When this crossed my desk, my instant feeling was trepidation – I was not convinced I would like it as I have not been exposed to any music of Moorish descent. How wrong could I be?
Noura Mint Seymali hails from Mauritania with a deep-rooted heritage in music, being a descendant of Moorish griot and this definitely shows in the songwriting. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of listening before, the sound is a fantastic fusion of African, Asian and Western influence. Each of the songs on the album has its own identity, at different times showcasing the guitar playing of Noura’s husband, Jelche Ould Chigaly, the bass of Ousmane Toure and the drums of Matthew Tinari. The full drum kit opens up the traditional sounds to Western ears and the bass which at times offers the percussive effect of a tabla – I suspect this is down to years of mastering the instrument and developed intentionally – paves the way for a series of overlaid guitar riffs that highlight the Afro-Asian influence. All of these support the soaring vocals of Noura without ever clashing. There is no doubt that the story she is telling is the focal point of the songs.
While each of the tracks merit a mention, Ghizlane really stands out for me. It starts quite calmly with a gorgeous melody being held up by a selection of riffs, building slowly with the addition of bass and drums until it climaxes into a cacophony of glorious celebration.
At the end of the day, this has opened my ears to a style of music I probably wouldn’t have searched out otherwise and that I will always be grateful for. Next stop, an online search for the first full-length album, Tzenni.