Raid Zone

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Warner
PERFORMER: Biyouna (vocals)
CATALOGUE NO: 0927-41415-2

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BIYOUNA’s is a voice in a category of its own. Nothing prepares you for its entry after a programmed introduction, because she growls, like a female Tom Waits. If she rises out of the baritone register the flights of expression can turn lyrical and quite affecting, but then it’s back to Algeria’s version of Dot-Cotton-meets-Bette-Davis.

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This is barely world music except in her own credentials and in the cultural mix of the accompaniments, though it’s certainly a virtuoso performance and could just become a cult – hence its presence here. Be warned, though, if you can’t quite take it straight the lunatic piano part of the last-but-one number will finish you off.