Bab L’ Bluz release new album ‘Swaken’

French-Moroccan power quartet Bab L' Bluz's new album 'Swaken', is released today. Eleven tracks that spark and pulse with kinetic, pedal-to-the-metal energy. 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.

The album was 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.

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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.

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.

Reviews

  • Their second LP arrives with greater expectations, but a gig-tested muscularity to blow the cobwebs off that four-year gap, with the rock of Led Zeppelin rather than the roll of more familiar Saharan bands. Crucially, though, the band use traditional lutes, flutes and percussion - awisha, ribab, quembri, grageb, ney - giving their music a different texture to groups with similar dynamics. There's a trance-like swing to "AmmA", no-nonsense boogie on "Zaino", and if apocalyptic freak-outs (à la I Am The Resurrection) are your thing, "Mouja" will definitely not disappoint. **** MOJO
  • 'Swaken' is heavier than their 2020 debut …. it's also more varied, as standouts "AmmA", whose whirling intensity Jaz Coleman might well applaud, the sweetly twangling, gently hypnotic "Hezalli" and punchy desert-blues of "Li Maana" attest. UNCUT
  • Nothing less than an essential album from an essential band built for our times. Monolith Cocktail

Bab L’ Bluz ‘Swaken’ available now on LP | CD | Digital
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  • 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 Fri, 10 May 24

Further reading

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The Zawose Queens, Pendo and Leah, are the daughter and grand-daughter of the late Dr. Hukwe Zawose.

Jasdeep Singh Degun makes history at Royal Philharmonic Society Awards

The Leeds-based musician was the first sitar player to receive the 'Best Instrumentalist' award.

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

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

Swaken Lyrics

Bab L' Bluz second album, Swaken, released in May 2024. These are the song lyrics in English, French...