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Khalab and M'berra Ensemble - M'berra

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 9 / 6 / 2021

Khalab and M'berra Ensemble - M'berra
Label: Real World Records
Format: LP


Italian DJ Khalab and Malian refugees the M'berra Ensemble fuse traditional desert sounds and buzzing electronics.

The yellow coloured 'M'berra' LP comes in a gorgeous sleeve with a booklet that looks dangerously similar to a coffee table book. The album is a project for Intersos, the Italian charity organization, and the booklet features fabulously stunning photographs. The recordings date back to 2017 when musicians and their families had found shelter in neighbouring Mauritania in the desert settlement of M'Berra. Not an existing ensemble as such, eleven musicians from rather different backgrounds gathered in tents and modest buildings where Italian DJ Khalab was the recording engineer and jack of all trades. Khalab is best known for his daring releases on London labels On The Corner and Wonderwheel. A man of broad taste, he has remixed unlikely bands like Melt Yourself Down! Over the years I've acquired quite a few kilos of his LPs and 7 and 12 inches. Bearing those records in mind, his contributions to this album fit in rather modestly. Khalab's electronic dance tracks breathe with desert winds and storms whereas the Tuareg guitar blues songs remain authentic recordings. The three-snared tehardent is as equally dominant on this desert blues collection as the electric guitar; it plays a double role, melodic and rhythmic and it works as the perfect means to build the beats which Khalab constructed in the post-production. The Tuareg songs present the musicians in their respective rights and from different pasts, and are intertwined with Khalab's electrified and beefed up remixes. Unworldly as it may read, parts of the album consist of outright club anthems, from tents in a refugee shelter whilst the traditional antidotes often sound like gripping tales of the hardship which these Malian musicians had gone through. 'M'berra' is a two-faced release blending together remix and field recordings with remarkable affect. To imagine it was recorded in shelter, makes it even more admirable and formidable. As if there was a disco in the desert. No wait, there is one actually. M'berra! Mali, or le Mali in French, once counted as one of the World's most musical nations, and this Real World album offers plenty of appealing evidence.

Track Listing:-
1 Desert Storm
2 The Western Guys
3 Curfew
4 The Griot Speaks
5 We Are M’berra
6 Skit In My Heart
7 Reste À L’Ombre
8 Desert Storm (Pt.2)
9 Moulan Shakur
10 Docu-Fiction
11 Dancing In A Desert Moon
12 Skit Guit

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