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On the excellence of Barcelona-based band Nour's first album, 'Papier Mullat'.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE EIGHTY-ONE
This is a one hundred per cent, twenty-four carat recommendation for any readers still strapped for Christmas present ideas: go immediately, please - no dilly-dallying! - to your nearest record shop and request an album called 'Papier Mullat' (sic) by a five-person band called Nour. Nour is the brainchild of Yacine Belahcene Benet, son of an Algerian father and a Catalan mother who grew up in the very same neighbourhood of Algiers that was blown to bits recently by some supposedly religious people. A few years after moving to Barcelona in 1993, Yacine founded Cheb Balowski, whose eleven members produced three albums and toured Europe, North Africa and the Middle East with immense success before sheer weight of numbers led to their dissolution.
Although Nour was formed just a few months ago, it has already produced what is without a hint of a doubt one of the finest CDs to have come out of Catalonia this year. Yacine grew up quadrilingual, thus allowing him to mix his Catalan-language songs with liberal doses of Algerian Arabic, Spanish and French (a full English translation is included in the sleeve notes) as naturally as all of Nour's musicians blend raï, rap and rock. Any doubtful readers might take note that this album has nothing to do with those mercilessly half-baked sounds that rejoice, unblushing, in the name of World Music. On the contrary, 'Papier Mullat' is musically brilliant, with lyrics as intelligent as they are down-to-earth. The first track alone - 'Vida Moderna' - is worth the asking price: 'Modern life for everyone/from other people's sweat/modern life for everyone/African sweat'. This got me, at least - advanced in age though I am - dancing myself into an appropriate lather.