Bab El West – Douar (Big Banana Music, 2017)
Bab El West is a new French band that combines North African music influences with rock, jazz, blues, pop, soul, Gnawa and African and Latin American rhythms. Douar, Bab El West’s debut, features a great set of songs with pop hooks and outstanding qanun work. The mixture of western rock instruments and traditional Arabic qanun is truly fascinating.
The band was founded by vocalist and guitarist Habib Farroukh (who sings in Arabic), drummer Marc Dupont and bassist Clément Vallin. The trio later added guitarist Hamza Bencherif and qanun master Nidhal Jaoua.
The lineup on Douar includes Habib Farroukh on lead vocals, guitar and percussion; Clément Vallin on acoustic and electric bass, guitar and backing vocals; Marc Dupont on drums and percussion; Nidhal Jaoua on qanun and backing vocals; Hamza Bencherif on electric guitar and backing vocals; and Anthony Honnet on keyboards.
Guests: Yannick Jory on saxophone; Léo Fourastié on percussion; Jalil Belbekri on guimbri, karkabas and backing vocals; a string ensemble featuring Boris Lamerand, Olive Perrusson and Liam Morrissey; Kicca on backing vocals; and Guyzo on lead vocals.
Douar reveals a new world music act with great potential; it’s a likeable mix of western popular music and traditions from the Maghreb.