Electric Jalaba comprises six accomplished musicians with an empathy thatfeels telepathic and a groove that immerses. In Arabic, the mother tongue ofMoroccan-born singer and guimbri player Simo Lagnawi, a leading practitionerof Gnawa music in Britain, they call this indefinable quality, "El Hal" - "Thefeeling".
"It's the feeling that comes when we're playing and totally forgetting where weare", says producer and bassist Olly Keen. "The feeling of being grabbed by themusic and lost in the groove." 'El Hal / The Feeling' is the new third album from Electric Jalaba and their first release in five years. It's a multi-faceted work thatfinds the band tighter than ever, deploying a vast cache of influences across ninetracks improvised and developed in their south London studio then deftly produced by Keen. Some tracks pay homage to the origins of Gnawa music,whose repertoire of Arabic-language praise songs contains remnants of West African dialects - Bambara from Mali, Fulani and Hausa from the Sahel region -that point to a centuries-old migration.
"The trance-inducing effect of Gnawa was what hit us first. It was visceral, heartstopping", continues Olly, whose siblings - producer / keys player Henry Keen,guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Keen and singer / multi-instrumentalist Barnaby Keen - make up Electric Jalaba alongside revered Anglo-Italian kitdrummer Dave De Rose and Simo on vocals, krakeb and guimbri. "Simoselected the chant from the traditional song suites and, as a band, we extendedthese short pieces of ceremonial music and experimented with sound andstructure", explains Olly.
Tracks include the Juno-led dancefloor single 'CubailiBa', 'Agia Hausa', a multi-layered wig-out that partly takes its inspiration from Senegal's fiercely percussive mbalax rhythms and 'Daimla', a gloriously dubbyode to Allah and iconic maalems including the late Mahmoud Guinea. "There's a very strong rhythmic element within the band but because of our differentperspectives but the melodic components are really unique as well", says Henry. That feeling of being outside of yourself but totally within yourself at the same time... That's what all of us, collectively, are striving for."