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Majid Soula Chant Amazigh

Blending the best of Arab disco, highlife and funk music, the latest release from the Habibi Funk label showcases the works of Algerian-born Amazigh artist Majid Soula.

Released: 10 December 2021
Chant Amazigh

Composed of tracks compiled from self-released cassettes in the 1980s, Chant Amazigh is a political record made for the dancefloor. Throughout the nine songs on show, disco rhythms provide the base for highlife guitar hooks, and groovy synth lines do battle with even groovier synth lines to create an intoxicating listen.

Opening track ‘Algerie Maroc’ starts out as a brooding, trance-like slow dance before the tempo picks up and the first elements of disco and highlife are introduced, alongside an unmistakably eighties drum machine, synth stabs and electric guitar solo.

Debut single ‘Netseweth Sifassan Nagh’ is a straight-up floor filler, with a repeated West African-inspired guitar line weaving its way around a four-on-the-floor beat. The driving percussion and surf guitar of ‘Win Terram’ comes across like an Algerian version of The B-52s, with elements of new wave, disco and funk scattered throughout.

In order to best appreciate the record, it’s important to be aware of the album’s political and social context. Majid Soula uses his music as a vessel for his message: to fight for the official recognition of Tamazight as a language and the defence of the Amazigh culture and identity. The release's liner notes argue that it’s a culture at risk of eradication through the ‘arabisation’ process that started in the 1960s in large parts of north Africa, neglecting the pluralism of languages and cultural identities already present.

Chant Amazigh can be hypnotic, ferociously groovy and propulsive in its motion. It’s not always subtle, but it’s a captivating experience.