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Group Doueh, "Guitar Music from the Western Sahara"

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This debut from Doueh and his group is outstanding. His playing is electric in all senses of the word; he effortlessly channels all the power of a sandstorm onto the six strings of his guitar. The recording quality may be patchy but the power of the music still comes through strong. The celebratory nature of the music combined with the skill of the players make this vinyl only release a joy to listen to.


Sublime Frequencies

On the first side of Guitar Music from the Western Sahara, some of the recordings are very tinny sounding, especially the first two songs which are a touch too grating on the ears to fully enjoy. This takes away from Doueh's exceptional gutiar playing on songs like "Eid El Arsh," which is completely obliterated from the recording when the chorus of vocals begin singing. Later on, the recordings become much cleaner and Doueh’s playing is given the space it deserves. Being home recordings they are still a little rough but more than acceptable.

A big deal is made in the sleeve notes about the influence of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix on Doueh and while the influence is sometimes audible, this description doesn't do Doueh's playing justice. He is, as one would expect, far more influenced by the immediate culture around him and though he assimilates some western influences into his playing, the music here is firmly rooted in the Sahrawi style. It is interesting to see that one of his guitars pictured on the back of the LP has extra frets added to allow him to play the quarter tones that western guitar makers do not factor into their guitar designs.

There are some dazzling songs on Guitar Music from the Western Sahara. "Tirara" has a call and response style vocal as a male singer is echoed by a group of female voices. All the while, Doueh plays a jerking rhythm and occasionally moves to places along the fretboard that seem impossible. His elemental playing is perfectly balanced by the earthy vocals and percussion. The most impressive thing about this song is that for all his guitar gymnastics, he stays firmly in the background, the complete antithesis of Hendrix! Opening the second side of the LP is "Dun Dan," where Doueh absolutely blows me away with his lightning fast sweeps which are quite unlike anything I have heard before.

Guitar Music from the Western Sahara is a gem of an album. Being vinyl only, this album is not going to reach as many people as it deserves to so hopefully Doueh will be prompted to make more of his music available (as apparently he has turned down all sorts of offers before) as this brief glimpse into his musical world is not enough. While the recording quality at the beginning of the album are off-putting (and for the sake of my ears I skip them), the rest of the music is so wonderful that I cannot recommend it highly enough. As a guitar player myself, I find Doueh's virtuosity a refreshing change to the typical idea of a guitar hero.

This is only available on LP so no mp3 samples, apologies!

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 March 2007 14:45  


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