Unity

Unity

Hassan Hakmoun is a master of the Moroccan sintir (a three-string bass lute) and makes hypnotic music of the highest order. He’s released a number of fine albums, but his recent output has been sparse, leaving his fans hungry. In 2014, Hakmoun released Unity, which doesn't disappoint. His mix of traditional Gnawa music from Morocco and rock is fearsome, and it’s in full effect here. Things get right down to business with “Zidokan (Just Go),” a hard-hitting track with insistent riffing, rippling percussion, call-and-response vocals, and bursts of harmonica. “Boudarbalayi (Saint)” does without drums for a few minutes before a slow-chugging groove sets in; flute interjections and ambient keyboards bring welcome colors to the cut. “Moulay Ahmed (Saint Ahmed)” has a melody that stands out; the song’s longer lines contrast with the short vocal phrases that frequently mark Unity. Two remixes are included: Soul K’s take on “Balili” (which leans toward the dance floor) and a Yossi Fine version of “Ohio” that features a simple drumbeat rather than the rush of percussion that animates the original.

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