Khaled ‘Liberte’ (Wrasse) 4/5

khaledFormerly a Cheb or ‘young man’, Khaled has long been a full matured singer and in recent times has been eager to explore different facets to his repertoire above and beyond updating the rai beat which first gained him notoriety. On this latest recording, aptly titled, he has liberated himself from musical shackles to explore the roots of Arabic music. In so doing he has temporarily at least banished the sound of synthesizers and an altogether rootsier feel is omnipresent. In particular Khaled has sought to internalise the Gnawa music prominent in Morocco and parts of Algeria, Diwan music as well as adding the ubiquitous Egyptian strings that are an integral feature of classical and light classical music in the latter nation. As with Egyptian classical, Khaled has opted for instrumental intros to the main part of the song and this merely enhances the feel of authenticity. Key tracks include ‘Raikoum’, which is an obviuos candidate for single, ‘Yamina’ and the title track, but the album in general impresses as a cohesive whole. Produced by ace world fusion man Martin Meissonnier and recorded in Paris with strings added in Cairo, this is one of Khaled’s freshest recordings in a while and one that may prove to provide new impetus to what is already a glittering career.

Tim Stenhouse