Fantasia - Mul Sheshe
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cd cover Fantazia
Mul Sheshe
World Village (www.worldvillagemusic.com)

North African/European fusions are nothing new, so if that's what your band specializes in, you'd best do it right. Thankfully, such is the case with Fantazia. Based in London and headed by Yazid Fentazi, a multi-instrumentalist and singer of Algerian Berber background, Fantazia may be the best mix of Saharan roots and dancefloor sizzle since Orchestre National de Barbes went MIA. When fundamentalist attitudes in Algeria made being a musician a dicey occupation, Fentazi set out for London, hooked up with some musically adventurous types and let it all hang out. This is apparently the group's second album and a very good one it is, full of sharply funky rhythms that give programming and real percussion an equal share on propulsive songs where Arabic, jazz, techno and pop influences mash together in pure serious fun. The leadoff title track begins with a deceptively somber drone and wail before starting the party, soon dipping into a chipper, celebratory and slightly befuddled romp that words like "catchy" can't begin to describe. That same spirit electrifies "Irgazen L'agnawa" and "Tindi" and even more traditional offerings such as "Moussa" get a cutting edge jolt. Defining instrumental moments come from every which way as very fine work on trumpet, violin, oud, flute and more underline both musical expertise and collaborative spirit. The disc ends on a thoughtful note, the lyrics of "Seen Enough" lamenting "we've seen too much/life is gone and we're still on the rush." Perhaps, but taking time out from that rush and trancing awhile to this crackling gem of a CD could help immeasurably. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdRoots


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