5 albums that showcase the beautiful music of North Africa

Get to know the music of North Africa with these five essential albums from our catalogue, including musical styles such as Algerian Raï, Egyptian Classical and Moroccan Gnawa.

1. Mraya

Abdel Ali Slimani (Algeria)

RELEASED 08 JANUARY 1996

Mraya is an assured debut, with Abdel Ali Slimani‘s Algerian Rai roots finding solid ground in trance-like grooves. The album’s theme reflects the emigre looking back at his home to which he cannot return, the music taking Rai to new areas but retaining the spirit of its desert roots. Read more about the album

Listen to / Buy ‘Mraya’

2. New Moon

Abdelli (Algeria)

RELEASED 26 JUNE 1995

Abdelli is a Berber of the Kabyle people, indigenous North Africans who have inhabited the region since pre-Arab times. New Moon is the poetic and passionate music of a man who brings his ancient culture into the modern world through collaboration with musicians from South America and the Ukraine. Read more about the album

Listen to / buy ‘New Moon’

3. Trance

Hassan Hakmoun & ZAHAR (Morocco)

RELEASED 31 AUGUST 1993

Primal Moroccan trance traditions collide with psychedelic New York rock and London dance grooves. What results is part of the on-going story of Gnawa music, which spread from West Africa, the Sudan, and the Southern Sahara through centuries of migration until it reached Morocco. Read more about the album

Listen to / buy ‘Trance’

4. Charcoal Gypsies

Musicians of the Nile (Egypt)

RELEASED 02 SEPTEMBER 1996

From the furthest reaches of Upper-Egypt to new spaces and cultures, The Musicians of the Nile return with powerful songs deep in tradition and spontaneity. Read more about the album

Listen to / buy ‘Charcoal Gypsies’

5. Kalashnik Love

Speed Caravan (Algeria)

RELEASED 14 SEPTEMBER 2009

Electrified, amplified and fuelled by creative fire, the Paris-based quartet charge towards a psychedelic horizon; slaloming through rock, dance, electro, hiphop, world and other music— blazing a trail with raised fists, a hand brake turn and a sharp spray of desert sand. Read more about the album

Listen to / buy ‘Kalashnik Love’

By Oran Mullan

Main image: a bird's eye view of a Berber village in Algeria, featured in the artwork of Abdelli's album New Moon. Photo credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Published on Wed, 16 January 19

Further reading

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ‘Live at WOMAD 1985’ out today

Relive the magic of July 20th 1985, a pivotal performance for the legend of Qawwali music.

Les Amazones d’Afrique are back with new single ‘Amazones Power’

The single precedes an upcoming European tour and a new album in Autumn 2019

7 East African artists performing at this year’s Ongala Music Festival

Named after the late Remmy Ongala, the event showcases exciting new East African talent.

Real World at the British Library Sound Archive

The British Library Archive have been recording artists at the WOMAD Festival for over 30 years.