Bab L’ Bluz announce new album

Bab L' Bluz have announced details on their forthcoming album Swaken, to be released on Real World Records on 10 May, 2024 and reveal first new track 'Imazighen.'

Swaken is eleven tracks that spark and pulse with kinetic, pedal-to-the-metal energy. Follow the spiral, and find your centre. Move and whirl, headbang and hair whip, into a place that is out there and deep within, an altered state where minds open, boundaries fall away and trust — in values, principles, ourselves — is rediscovered, made real.

This is ancient-to-future music, rooted as much in psychedelic blues, funk and rock as in the trancey, propulsive rhythms of northern Africa’s Maghreb: Gnawa, Amazigh, Hassani and Houara music.

LISTEN TO IMAZIGHEN

Recorded at Real World Studios in Wiltshire, England, written partly in Morocco — the birthplace of frontwoman Yousra Mansour — and mostly across a world tour that took the band from Adelaide, Barcelona and New York to Essaouira in Morocco, Lomé in Togo and Dougga in Tunisia. Mansour’s melismatic voice has never sounded so forceful, or the riffage from her electric awisha lute so mighty. Her bandmates Brice Bottin, Ibrahim Terkemani, Jérôme Bartolome (on everything from keyboards, flutes and electric guembri to drums, backing vocals and qraqeb castanets) interact with what might be telepathy, their playing skilled and tight.

Losing yourself to find yourself is a central tenet of Swaken, an album whose warm analogue sound nods to such ’70s rock icons as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Nass El Ghiwane, Morocco’s very own Rolling Stones, social justice warriors who mixed western rock and folk with a trance aesthetic influenced — as is that of Bab L’ Bluz — by Gnawa lilas, the all-night healing rituals intended for sacred spirit possession.

“Constant touring means we have grown in confidence and power,” says Mansour of the band she co-founded in 2018 with French guitarist, bass guembri lute player and multi-instrumentalist Brice Bottin, who co-produced Swaken in the Wood Room at Real World Studios with the latter’s Katie May.

“We adapted our sound for festival crowds, made it heavier, rockier. We added more instruments. More courage. More fire.”

Bab L' Bluz - Imazighen

“We love the rock energy,” adds Bottin, who also wields dub sirens and plays guitar, banjo, percussion and West Africa’s peul flute. “You plug in your instrument and you drive people crazy. Rock came from blues. Both are related to trance music. You can listen deeply, or headbang, and be completely taken over.”

For the most part, Mansour writes and sings in Darija, her Moroccan-Arabic dialect, and the preferred language of the Nayda movement (‘nayda’ means ‘up’ in Darija). On Swaken she confronts such contentious topics as Moroccan inheritance laws, gender wage disparities and rising cases of suicide and depression while calling for unity, tolerance and kindness in an increasingly fragile world.

“There are still times when we are confronted with outdated attitudes,” says Mansour, with a shrug. “Which only makes me more determined to express everything I feel. I will not censor myself.”

Swaken: Music that makes you forget to remember, that takes you over, sends you under, into a place of clarity and connection. A place that shakes us up, to bring us peace.

Bab L’ Bluz — Swaken, the new album, released on 10 May 2024 on Real World Records.

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Featured release

  • Swaken

    Bab L’ Bluz

    Released 10 May 2024

    Welcome to the world of Swaken, the second album by French-Moroccan power quartet, Bab L' Bluz. Recorded at Real World Studios in Wiltshire, England, written partly in Morocco — the birthplace of frontwoman Yousra Mansour — and mostly across a world tour that took them from Adelaide, Barcelona and New York to Essaouira in Morocco, Lomé in Togo and Dougga in Tunisia. Eleven tracks that spark and pulse with kinetic, pedal-to-the-metal energy.
  • Nayda!

    Bab L’ Bluz

    Released 05 June 2020

    Moroccan-French power quartet, Bab L’ Bluz, reclaim the blues for North Africa. Fronted by an African-Moroccan woman in a traditionally male role, Bab L’ Bluz are devoted to a revolution in attitude which dovetails with Morocco’s ‘nayda’ youth movement – a new wave of artists and musicians taking their cues from local heritage, singing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect of darija.

By Online Editor

Published on Wed, 14 February 24

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Track of the day: ‘AmmA’ by Bab L’ Bluz

'AmmA' draws on music from north-east Morocco and influences from Tunisia and Algeria.

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