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Described by his record company as "part oud-flailing Hendrix, part transmitter of ancient culture", Hassan Erraji is a blind Moroccan multi-instrumentalist who has studied north African folk styles and western classical violin and piano. He has relocated to Leeds and teamed up with producer Dave Creffield, best known for his work with the Kaiser Chiefs.
The result is an upbeat crossover set that continues Erraji's fascination with fusing different styles while playing an extraordinary range of instruments. Rhythm is provided by Ben Stevens and Kenny Higgins, while Erraji sings and plays anything from the Arabic lute to the ney flute, qanun, violin, keyboards and hand drums. Many songs follow the same pattern, his deep, relaxed voice matched by sturdy riffs and a swirl of overdubbed instrumental work. Backing vocals are provided by his daughter.
Mounyati sounds like a violin-backed Arabic country hoe-down, and Douka Dance mixes Arabic embellishments with what could be a sturdy English folk theme. More variety would have been welcome, but Erraji is a virtuoso performer.
Robin Denselow guardian.co.uk,