Ifriqiyya Electrique: Rûwâhîne – album review
Ifriqiyya Electrique – Rûwâhîne (Glitterbeat Records)
LP / CD / DL
26 May 2017
10 / 10
The debut album from the Tunisian Sufi trance musicians is something very special. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates breaks the reviewing rules.
One of the first ‘rules’ I was told to observe about reviewing music was never to write in the first person. I’ve broken that rule once, a review of an album by The Fall which was the first time I’d listened to one of their long-players, and I’m breaking it again. I’m breaking it because this album has been an eye-opener, a journey into a sound that I’ve never heard before and even now, after many (and I mean many) listens, it is one of the most incredible albums I’ve listened to in recent years.
There have been few that have made the immediate impact that Rûwâhîne has made – Torment & Toreros (Marc And The Mambas), Furious Angels (Rob Dougan) and more recently, Tracks Of Wire (deux furieuses) – hitting me like a ballistic missile between my bulging eyes. It is described as music of adorcism – the method of placating and accommodating evil spirits in possessed beings rather than exorcism – and it’s easy to see why.
Rûwâhîne is a curious but incredible mix of desert rock, of multiple percussion, of chanting, hip-hop and hints of Nine Inch Nails. Intrigued? You should be, and enough to track this album down and play it. Admittedly, it may not appeal to the soft pop fans and the ones who want to experience something safe, but to those of you who want something to shake the bones and kick you in the proverbial bollocks then this is the one.
Growing up I ‘ve always loved the Burundi beat, first of all with Gary Glitter and the Glitter Band, then Adam And The Ants and whoever have insisted that one percussionist just isn’t enough, and with Ifriqiyya Electrique it clearly isn’t. At times, their sound is like the soundtrack from hell as guitar, bass and electronics combine and break all the rules. This is music that has been known to possess, making people leap uncontrollably into the air transfixed and dancing like their body has lost complete control.
When all seems to settling into place, a hip-hop ‘record scratch’ appears in the background, piano chords bounce unsettlingly and bass guitar thud with those incredible voices. Listen to Annabi Mohammad- Laa La Illa Allah – Deg El Bendir and tell me you aren’t affected in some way. Raw, gnarling guitars from the school of Trent Reznor screech and leave indelible marks.
Rûwâhîne is no ordinary album. In fact, the word ‘extraordinary’ doesn’t even do it justice. Rûwâhîne is one of the most amazing pieces of work you will ever witness, maybe never heard before and never to be heard again. An album catching a feeling, an emotion, a moment in a lifetime. Improvisation between tradition and technology. Quite literally blood, sweat and tears.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.