Globally celebrated singer Natacha Atlas has been building towards the subtle beauty of her brand new album ever since 2008 s internationally acclaimed acoustic, orchestral album Ana Hina. Recorded with guests including pianist Zoe Rahman, a 20-piece Turkish ensemble and a chamber orchestra integrating western and Arabic styles, Mounqaliba (which means being in a state of reversal in classical Arabic) is a stunning set of original new songs, evocative interludes, and a limpid, lucid reading of Nick Drake s The Riverman. What I hope I have achieved says Natacha is to match the lyricism of classical music with the inherent poetry of Arabic, I wanted to continue the exploration of grounds covered with Ana Hina. Through the juxtaposition of western classical string sections with traditional Arabic instruments, classical arabic poetry against abstract impressionism, traditional Arabic percussion with smoky jazz kits....... To create a melange of ideas and examined opposites. Spanning a broad range of styles and sounds, Nick Drake's Riverman nestles snugly alongside classical arabic standard Muwashah Ozkourini, the utopian epic sweep of Makaan (tempering wistfulness with a fragile sadness) and the post-modern glitchiness of Batkallim (the most electronic sounding song on the album, a scathing denunciation of the growing tide of hypocrisy that seems to have stricken the world's media and politics). Though largely acoustic, and featuring ney, accordion and piano among the fusion of East-West string ensembles and orchestral textures, Natacha does make a return to digital beats. There is one track where we ve treated the Arabic percussion with electronic programming. A lot of the time when Arabic music is fused with western music they conform the Arabic beats to western beats because it s one of the easiest ways to bring the two worlds together, but we ve not done that, we ve glitched it instead, so it has a modern feel without losing its Arabic identity.
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