Artist/ Band: Gansan
Title: Elegie Berbere
Label: Homerecords
Year of Release: 2011
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

This is a superb recording released late November 2011. I was happily surprised with the many facets of the sound from this band. They based the music around an instrument called the ribab (a single stringed instrument held like a guitar and played with a bow) that is key to the Berber music of South Morocco. The purpose was to mix this with the various saxophones and as the two main musicians call it “a subtle mix between Berber passion, jazz freedom and rock energy”. I couldn’t say it better. You have a good combination of exotic, playfulness, and outright impeccable musicianship. The skilled members are Ludovic Jeanmart - saxophone soprano, saxophone alto, Foulane Bouhssine - ribab, violin, vocals and percussion, Nicolas Dechęne - guitar, Luc Evens - bass, Ahmed Khaili - percussions, and Benoît Ruwet - drums.

From both sides of the Mediterranean, the musicians make absolutely fantastic world fusion music which has similar sounds to some of the more middle eastern ECM records, as well as a cool stamp of it’s own. I found all of the most desired ingredients on ‘Elegie’ Berbere’. The CD has a nice tri-fold digi packaging with great cover art and inside photo of rustic terrain of the “Souss” region of Morocco.. I always love looking at the compact disc package with info and art before and during the first listen of a recording.

The first song is the title track and begins with a floating tight feel then towards the end it kicks into second gear. The second song begins in a similar tempo as the ending of the first. I can hear the crossing of the jazz and Moroccan Berber. It’s a very cooking song especially once it gets past the 3:50 mark. You hear a magnificent rhythm and some altered guitar work that reminds you this is no traditional music. The music is fused with the culture, but lots of experimental touches along with occasional voice (track 3 is a good example) to give more texture and varied atmosphere. Something else I love about this release is how many songs will start one way and then at an unpredictable place, they either do a short pause or just go right into an entirely new tempo and beat. ‘Timanssit’ (track 9) starts off sounding like Univers Zero and keeps a dissonance while slowly creating the haunting stage, then evolves into a faster pace eastern jazz fusion.. There are many spots where the trading of the ribab and sax solos is simply sublime. You actually hear a celebration in each song. You are presented with each musician’s skill level with short solos from time to time, and there is no doubt about how great these guys are. I even think those not into the jazz/world/fusion thing might like this, given a chance.

It’s hard for me to convey just how excellent this disc is. I was blown away by some of it, and thrilled with every bit of it. In the end, I found this to be better than all the 70's jazz fusion bands with the eastern tinges (Perigeo, Transit Express etc). This just has an ultra tight compositional feel, but loose spirit to it. The music has a heart with a upbeat pulse to it, both metaphorically and audible to the listener. And if you are scared of what a ribab sounds like here, then let me tell you, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s more soothing and rich then a violin, for me at least. I wanted to hear more of it as it meshed with all the other instruments like a velvet blanket.

The complex rhythms are killer, the melodies are beautiful, the arrangements are fabulous, and the whole mix is eargasmic. Give me more please!! GIGANTICALLY RECOMMENDED!!

Reviewed by Lee Henderson on January 24th, 2012


01. Élégie berbčre 7:34
02. Tamount Ifassen 5:19
03. Targha 4:44
04. Rencontres nomades 6:30
05. Yan Yan 4:48
06. L'oreille d'Abeille 5:36
07. White nights at Casanegra 6:04
08. Timanssit 5:15
09. Pulse 6:32

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