Psychedelic blues from North Africa
It’s all very well being the caretaker of the reputation of a centuries-old musical instrument, tasked with keeping its traditions in safe hands before passing it on to the next generation to do similar. Sometimes, though, these caretakers are inspired to do more: to advance its cause, to take it out of its comfort zone, to introduce it to the wider world.
And so it is with Bab l’Bluz, a duo formed in Marrakech a couple of years back with the express purpose of shining a strong-beamed spotlight on the gembri, the three-stringed bass lute of the Gnawa people of North Africa. The pair –Yousra Mansour and Brice Botin –do this by supercharging their instruments with a psychedelic, bluesy intensity. Fleshed out to a quartet for live shows, this is a heady, hypnotic journey into the desert and beyond.