Guitar Music From The Western Sahara — the Group Doueh album that was released in rapidly sold-out LP form last year — is a raw, joyful slab of hard funk filtered through local sounds. In this case, that means Saharawi music, local rhythms taken from Morocco, and local remnants of Spanish colonial culture. The guitars drone and slash, mimic sitars and sarods, and the hypnotic dual vocal attack borrows much from Arabic poetry, children’s call-and-response tunes and chants.
Vocals are provided by Doueh’s wife, Halima, and their friend Bashiri. Doueh himself is most impressive on tunes like the semi-ragas “Tirara” and “Fagu” and the funky, more Western-influenced “Cheyla Ya Halaiuune” and “Dun Dan,” which ought to please the curious John McLaughlin or Lou Reed fan. Both tracks are glorious hard funk. Doueh’s guitar is always elliptical and probing, moving in and out of the vocal lines, knowing when to back off and when to cue a rise in tempo.
Guitar Music From the Western Sahara is at once a celebration of a lifetime of work and a rare glimpse into a isolated land and what they have done with the music that has filtered into it. Intimate as a backyard party and wide open like a festival gala for thousands, this is a record to savor and crank all the way up to see who might overhear it and stop by for a deeper listen.