A shot from the margins of French society, Made in Medina is Rachid Taha's latest exploration in transnational rai rock. A former club DJ, Taha joined two French-Algerian factory mates in 1982 as singer in Carte de Sťjours ("Green Card"), fusing politically charged vocals and North African strains with international rock, pop and electronic influences. Grounded in rai tradition, Taha's throaty vocals float over an ethereal electronic dance mix whose driving rhythm-and-drone has long enthralled European techno fans. Featured are ten compelling Taha originals, embossed by Steve Hillage's electric guitar, programming and production, plus a duet with Femi Kuti on a somber "Ala Jalkoum," which laments the elusive character of social justice for emigrants. The Bedouin-tinged "Hey Anta" recalls Cat Stevens' lyrical spiritual yearning, "Qalantiqa" explores the lilting Algerian cha‚bi mode, while "En Retard" sets up a mesmerizing trance-dance vocal call-and-response. Taha enjoys solid backing by Hakim Hamadouche (mandolute, vocals), Hossam Ramzy (Egyptian percussion), Hassan Lakal (Maghrebi percussion), the Moroccan female vocal and percussion group B'net Marrakesh, miscellaneous strings, and a funky New Orleans rhythm section. - Michael Stone
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