Words by Tim Cumming
French guitarist and bouzouki player Robin’s musical journeys around the Mediterranean are part of his signature style. His latest collaboration is as beguiling, lyrical and gentle on the ear as ever. On Taziri, his travelling companion is Mehdi Nassouli from southern Morocco, who draws on the music of his Berber and Gnawa heritage. His soft, lyrical voice, gimbri and bendir float through these nine tracks, suffused by faint scents from a Gnawa lila ceremony. Robin’s distinctive filigree work opens ‘La Femme Ideal’, before Nassouli’s gimbri introduces a binding Gnawa bass motif. The unusual acoustic fusion of ‘De Mashaq a Maghreb’ has the band – which includes Robin’s longtime percussionist Zé Luis Nascimento, accordionist Francis Varis, and Foulane Bouhssine on ribab (lute) – falling into a syncopated rhythm behind Nassouli’s gently keening voice.
The Berber women’s voices on the closing ‘L’Ounassa’ build to a rollicking singalong with palmas (hand-clapping), accordion and Nassouli’s vocals. This music may not change the world, but it surely makes living in it a richer experience.