Rhythm & Views

Cheb I Sabbah

Veteran Algerian mixmaster Cheb I Sabbah had decades of a head start on producing global groove music, and he remains light years ahead of most of the pack. His last release, La Kahena, was a very personal return to the North African music of his youth; on La Ghriba: La Kahena Remixed, he hands the reins to 11 hand-picked remixers and lets them do their thing.

Not surprisingly, the results are quite literally all over the map. Sabbah is known for his feather-light touch, but the dance floor dictates of remixing generally reap much heavier and more propulsive grooves. San Franciscan Bassnectar digs deep into throbbing bass drones on "Alkher Illa Doffor," creating monstrous, shifting plates of sound. Bhangra DJ Sandeep Kumar opts for a straight-ahead club remix of the rocking "Toura Toura." Temple of Sound (Neil Sparkes and Count Dubulah of Transglobal Underground) go for the big, spiraling, rave-ready Banco de Gaia-styled mix on "Esh 'Dani, Alash Mshit." Moroccans MoMo offer a traditional, Sahara-drenched take of "Sadats." Fellow Moroccans Dar Beida 04 deliver a dizzying, percussion-heavy mix of "Alla Al 'Hbab" that mixes the medina and the dance floor, complete with wailing voices and an insistent violin. Gaurav Raina from the Indian duo Midival Punditz and global groove godfather Bill Laswell bring their own sophisticated mixes to the table.

Sabbah's East-meets-West mix is one of the cross-cultural bright spots in a troubled world. Can we gather the leaders and make them dance?