Houria Aichi et L'Hijaz'Car
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Houria Aichi et L'Hijaz'Car

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Cavaliers de l'Aurès/Riders Of The Aurès

Horsemen sit well in myth, whether it's the cowboys of the Wild West riding the purple sage or knights of old chivalric quest. Roy Rodgers needs his Trigger, Sir Gawain his Gringolet. With her nasal tones, Houria Aïchi conjures and hymns the Riders of the Aurès, the legendary horsemen of her own people, the Shawiya Berbers of North East Algeria. The bare fact is that the Shawiya used horses to herd their flocks, and, in fact, they still breed horses there. The myth imbues those horsemen with deathless romance, fearlessness and dignity. The Lone Ranger meets Lancelot of the Lake in Algeria. High in the Atlas, the Aurès have historically been a Berber stronghold against invaders whether they were Romans, Vandals, Byzantines or Arabs, so it is small wonder the dashing horsemen became synonymous with not just valour and endurance, but with higher attributes of honour and beauty.

Aïchi made her name interpreting and developing the music of the Shawiya. Her particular interest in sacred song lends itself to the weight of history in the subject matter here, and there is a devotional intensity to her delivery of these songs of love and loss. Oneof the problems with wonderful horsemen seems to be that they ride away. L'hijâz'Car are a world music group from Strasbourg whose academic credentials do little to diminish the excitement they inject into the record: they create a full, multi-layered sound, marshalling oud, banjo, clarinet, spike-fiddle and an array of percussion to add to a clattering, propulsive setting;they become the voice of the thundering hooves, thrilled spectators or yelling horsemen. This is Berber music, Amazigh, not Arab. The rhythms are African, the language Berber, call-and-response a key element, and if the style is pre-Islamic, one song in particular, captures (or appears to capture) an epochal moment. On Le Messanger, Aïchi sings:"A rider is coming from the East/Do you know who it is?/He is Mohamed.../The man of fine words:/There is but one God and Allah is his name."

Tom Jackson - fROOTS


Discography

Cavaliers de l'Aurès - Accords Croisés / Harmonia Mundi
"Coup de Coeur" de l'Académie Charles Cros
"Bravo" de Trad Mag

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Bio

Houria Aïchi is already known amongst French music lovers who have been following her since she began on stage with her repertoire « Singing of Aurès ». She is a Chaouïa singer from the Aurès, a mountainous region in the eastern part of Algeria that is loaded with History. Aïchi quickly proved her desire to transform traditional forms whilst remaining faithful to the deep roots of her culture. Grégory Dargent, young oud player and talented composer, contributes to the project with a sensitive treatment of sound archives, the dynamics of rock, jazz, Mediterranean sounds … just so many styles that were concocted by the young musicians of the Hijâz' Car. Alongside these artists, Houria Aïchi celebrates the universality of the rules of chivalry, courage, love, advocated by these cavalier princes, the Rayan el khil which marked her childhood. She makes us discover the poetry in the songs of her heritage thanks to the acoustic world sculpted in all their glory by Grégory Dargent.

Concept and artistic direction : Martina A Catella
Arrangements and orchestration : Grégory Dargent