Algerian-French musicians Electrodunes bring eclectic mix to Sana’a [Archives:2008/1166/Last Page]

June 23 2008
Photo from archived article: photos/1166/lastpage1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/1166/lastpage1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/1166/lastpage1_2
Photo from archived article: photos/1166/lastpage1_2
Sarah Wolff
Photos courtesy of CCF

A group of Algerian, French and Yemeni musicians rocked the stage at the Yemeni Cultural Center Saturday night in a display of cultural diversity, heritage and love of music for the annual presentation of the France-based, French Cultural Center-sponsored “F'te de la Musique.”

Known as Electrodunes, the band is the brainchild of the French musician known as Barbes D., a composer and digital sound mixer, and Algerian musicians Said Touati, Hafid Douli, Houari Douli and Djalila Rebouh.

The group began more than two years ago, although Rebouh is a new addition, replacing a male singer who recently married and left the troupe.

The remaining band members say Rebouh's vocal stylings add a positive feminine element to their sound, which combines elements of traditional Saharan Algerian music with percussion, chanting, electro-dub beats and Jamaican reggae flavor.

“The artists create new music, new words and ideas,” says Marc Ambrogiani, another member of Electrodunes.

Algeria's Sahara Desert is a particular inspiration for the group, which divides their time between Marseille, France and Beni-Abbes, Algeria. “It's a meeting point for all cultures,” Ambrogiani explains.

The four musicians jammed together at Saturday's concert with the haunting, wailing sounds of the Algerian Sahara transposed over thumping electronic reggae beats while pictures of Algeria looped onstage behind them.

Electrodunes held a workshop with renowned Yemeni singer and oud (Yemeni lute) player Abdulatif last week before the big concert on Saturday. “We're very interested in Yemeni music and we'd love to do something [collaborate] with them from this meeting,” Rebouh says.

Band member Hafid Douli notes that he especially likes the use of the oud and complimented Yemeni vocalists on their technique. “I want to understand it because I think it's very complicated,” he says, adding, “We'll find out more about it and learn something new.”

The annual “F'te de la Musique” (meaning music party) began in Paris years ago and usually celebrated throughout the world on June 21 with a full night of musical performances by both amateur and professional talents lasting until dawn.

“This party began in Paris and now is held throughout the world on June 21 in more than 100 countries,” explains Joel Dechezlepretre, director of the French Cultural Center in Yemen, which organized the event. He adds, “All forms of music are performed – folk, classical and contemporary.”

In all of the places where the annual music party is held – including faraway locales such as Medell”n, Columbia and Yogyakarta, Indonesia all the way to Oakland, California in the U.S. – the celebration is free and open to all revelers.

Although this year, only invitees Electrodunes performed at the Sana'a event, other venues throughout the world are open to amateur and professional musicians. Dechezlepretre says he'd like to open the event to amateur Yemeni musicians next year, if possible.