- Acid Arab's mission statement—to combine the traditional tools of house and techno with Eastern melodies—seems to inherently teeter on the verge of conceptual collapse, one misstep away from being kitschy or derivative. But Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho have that most elusive of qualities: good taste. Together they've created something that avoids the usual pitfalls of Eastern-inspired dance tracks, dipping into the vast tradition of North African and Middle Eastern folk music with style and verve.
The project can be traced back to a trip to Tunisia with Versatile Records founder DJ Gilb'R, where Minisky and Carvalho explored the country's structurally complex, trance-like folk music. They took the concept back to Paris, releasing two compilation EPs in 2013 on Versatile that combined their own productions with cuts from the likes of Legowelt, I:Cube and DJ Gregory (as Headcore). Only one track from those EPs—Crackboy's remix of Omar Souleyman's "Shift Al Mani"—makes it onto the Acid Arab compilation. Souleyman's presence feels important: the Syrian's album from last year bridged the gap between east and west in a way few records have.
In addition to tracks from well-known staples of the Parisian underground—I:Cube, Pilooski, Etienne Jaumet—Acid Arab presents lesser-known artists like RIKSLYD, whose "Oriented" opens the compilation with a sample of Lebanese musician Carloe Samaha rewired to the sound of scraping drums. Professor Genius, whose 2012 Hassan record for L.I.E.S. could be see as a precursor to Acid Arab, turns in the sonically dense and pensive "Couronne." Pilooski's "The Wizzard Edit" sounds like a wonky, decades-old Arabian vinyl relic played at the wrong speed on a malfunctioning turntable, while Renart and DimmiT provide the two least inspired moments, "Sahra Min Tahab" and "Blash."
Acid Arab's own tunes are up there with the compilation's best. "Berberian Wedding" pits icy claps and drums with the sound of chatting and singing Tunisian voices, while "Samira," a collaboration between Acid Arab, Fred Avril and Shadi Khries, seeks melodic inspiration from Kurdistan, India and Pakistan. By inviting others into their project, Minisky and Carvalho have turned Acid Arab into something bigger than themselves. But for all the high-profile guests, they're still the ones who feel most tuned in to the concept's rich possibilities.
01. Rikslyd – Oriented
02. Omar Souleyman – Shift Al Mani (Crackboy remix)
03. Professor Genius – Couronne
04. Hanaa Ouassim feat. Turzi, Judah Warsky & Dj Gilb’R – Madad
05. Pilooski – The Wizzard edit
06. Acid Arab – Berberian Wedding
07. I:Cube – Le Bon Vieux Temps (Red Tape Mix)
08. Danny Mahboune – Ouzou Mneha (Live At Belleville)
09. Renart – Sahra Min Tahab
10. Dimmit – Blash
11. Etienne Jaumet – The Cheik Arrives
12. Acid Arab feat. Avril & Shadi Khries – Samira
13. Mattia – Surabaya