Sidh now presents a fascinating hybrid between the traditional sounds of the Gnawa and the rhythms and melodies of the Mediterranean.
Lila whose name significantly refers to the Gnawa’s spiritual séances is the work of a young Italian-based Algerian musician, SIDH (vocals, guembri, bendir, qraqueb) together with Riccardo Manzi (guitar and bouzouki), Renato Vecchio (saxophones, flute, duduk), Zaki Bedaida (acoustic guitar and vocals), Youcef Grim (percussion) and a vocal trio. SIDH has produced a record that is not merely evocative or hypnotic but one which leads the folk repertoire down startling new paths, enriching it with a wealth of fascinating sounds of different origins that the artist has found in his own wanderings.
The deep spiritual resonance of Gnawa music is nonetheless very much to the fore as the words included in the CD liner notes attest: Lila underlines the importance of God and salvation in people’s lives as well as numerous other aspects of the holy life: penitence sacrifice, advice to the young, the duty owed to parents. But SIDH does not forget to address more profane matters, such as female beauty or love made impossible by lack of money.
Musically speaking. Lila is built around the interweaving of SIDH’s powerful, alluring voice with the sound of the gumbri (a kind of acoustic bass with a wooden soundbox and strings made of animal gut) and the qraqeb (large metal castanets which form the rhythmic base of Gnawa music) given extra depth by the addition of western instruments such as sax and guitar, which SIDH is able to fuse to perfection with his folk instruments. With Lila SIDH not only shows what a highly accomplished and sensitive artist he is but also demonstrates the incredible creative potential today’s musicians have at their disposal.