Global Music Column – August

Various Artists – An Eclectic Selection of Music from the Arab World, Part 2

Since 2015, Berlin-based label Habibi Funk has carved out a specific and increasingly popular niche by reissuing lesser-known records by artists from north Africa and the Middle East. Treading carefully around the colonial resonances of white-owned labels purporting to “discover” these acts, label founder Jannis Stürtz splits profits 50-50 between the label and the artists (or their estates).

The label released its first Eclectic Selection compilation in 2017 – one that featured everything from Fadoul’s Casablancan funk to Algerian Ahmed Malek’s expansive instrumentals. The cover of this second instalment encapsulates its culture-spanning ethos, depicting Malek at an ice-cream bar in Osaka in 1970 – a trip he later said came to inspire his own varied approach to genre. Malek is featured here again, his track Casbah providing a sprightly horn arrangement over a loose disco groove. Fadoul also reappears with the driving funk of Ahl Jedba, his throaty vocals displaying his contemporaneous kinship with James Brown’s own delivery.

Read the review in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 23/07/21]