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CD REVIEW: Moh Alileche - In Memory Of A Hero
By Don Sechelski - 02/25/2009 - 09:14 PM EST

Artist: Moh Alileche
Album: In Memory Of A Hero
Label: Flag Of Freedom Productions
Genre: World
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 6/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Best Songs: Couscous, In Memory Of A Hero
Weakness: The language barrier will make this music inaccessible to some American listeners.
CD Review:

Moh Alileche's fourth album, In Memory Of A Hero, is a swirling, dancing trip through the North African Berber region of Algeria. Dedicated to assassinated Berber Kabyle singer, Lounes Matoub, In Memory Of A Hero celebrates the freedom loving peoples of northeastern Algeria. Matoub was a musician and political activist championing the cause of the indigenous Berbers of the Kabyle highlands of Algeria. His killing increased tensions between that region and the central government.

Moh sings his songs in the native tongue of Kabylia, Tamazight. This is, in itself, an expression of defiance toward the government which prefers that citizens use Arabic. Fortunately, for us English speakers; In Memory Of A Hero includes a translated title and description of the meaning of each song.  The music, itself is a breathtaking blend of native instruments including Moh Alileche on vocals and mandol. Bazou plays mandol also as well as guitar and bass. Rabah Oukrine provides percussion, Mouloud Nait Ali plays banjo and mandol, Mokhtur Boudilida plays violin, and Kamal Sahnoune plays keyboard. Other players include Salem Kerrouche on flute, Djamal Hamiteche on drums and percussion, Ali Togoli on percussion, Moh Akli on t'bel, and Takfarinas on mandol.

Awaiting The Dancer is a wedding dance. It's easy to close your eyes and see the finely decorated room where the musicians play while the guests await the arrival of the dancer. Her finely measured steps and beautiful native scarves dazzle the audience. Beauty Of Kabylia begins with a plaintive violin solo before the rest of the band joins Alileche in extolling the beauty their homeland, Kabylia. I like the long mandol solo at the beginning of In Memory Of A Hero. The steady beat of the t'bel (large drum) is propulsive as Said Hamidi, Karim Becha, and Said Khazem join Alileche on vocals. Coucous extolls the virtues of the main dish of Berber people. The music is hypnotic as Alileche trades phrases with the flute over a pulsing bed of percussion.

In Memory Of A Hero is stirring music that celebrates the people and culture of the Berber people of North Africa. It is a rich taste of beautiful, hypnotic melodies and percussive passionate rhythms. Now that I've heard Memory Of A Hero, I am inspired to check out his earlier three CD's. If you are interested in world music, check out In Memory Of A Hero.

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