Review | Songlines

Baraaim El-Louz

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details


Koum Tara


Odradek Records


Led by French pianist and composer Karim Maurice, Lyon-based group Koum Tara’s second album on the Odradek label, Baraaim El-Louz (which translates from the Arabic as ‘The Buds of the Almond Tree’) finds the group exploring the roots of Algerian chaâbi music while simultaneously expanding on its possibilities.

While much of the music is based on traditional melodies and lyrics from legendary chaâbi singers such as Mahboub Bati (here delivered by Algerian singer Hamidou), Karim Maurice’s deft piano and some graceful strings by members of the La Camerata orchestra help create a vibrant and imaginative confluence of North African and Western sounds. On ‘Ana Aandi Qalb’, for instance, the string section presents a dark, almost Hitchcock-esque filmic setting for Hamidou’s brooding vocals. ‘Cheh Ya Qalbi’ pairs Arabic melodies and the twang of a mandole (Algerian mandolin) with the steady pulse of an acoustic jazz bass, fusion keyboards and grand orchestral strings. The instrumental ‘Zidane’ which closes the album builds further on Koum Tara’s cinematic sound to create a fittingly graceful denouement.

Subscribe from only £7.50

Start your journey and discover the very best music from around the world.


View the Current

Take a peek inside the latest issue of Songlines magazine.

Find out more