“There are a lot of good North African / Arabic influenced releases out at the moment, but this one stands out because of its maker’s obvious understanding of both tradition and technology” (Straight No Chaser)

“…one of the most interesting and diverse fusions of traditional and dance beats yet” (Folk Roots)

“U-cef hasn’t just combined these elements to jump on the ‘world music’ bandwagon, he’s done it to bring the honoured tradition of Arabic music into the 21st century. Needless to say, he does it with finesse.” (DJ magazine)

“A lesson in subtlety for all worldbeat remixers – listen with an open mind!” (BFM)

“We’ve heard that whole Arabic jungle fusion thing fifty times and it hasn’t worked. Well, this time, it works!” (Trax)

“He represents what the term world music really means today more than anyone else” (L’Humanité)

“U-cef has managed to create a genuinely communal work which doesn’t give a damn for musical barriers and pre-conceived ideas.” (Vibrations)

“…one of the most brilliant examples of the mix between the sounds of the dancefloor and those of other ethnic traditions” (Blow Up)

“Away with the dusty culturally correct world music for the elite. Here comes the worldmusic of the new millennium” (OOR)

“His borrowings from hip hop and drum and bass don’t destroy identity of the Maghreb cultural roots and create an organic and hypnotic sound.” (El Periodico)

“Not suitable for orthodox world music types and sentinels of ethnic purity; balsam for those in search of crossroads.” (El Pais)

“…one of the most ambitious and best-executed fusions of ethnic traditionalism and urban futurism I’ve ever heard.” (Chicago Reader)

CD, udkommer tirsdag d. 22-09-2009 på Crammed / VME

GAFFAs anmeldelse:

"I love the way U-CEF with exquisite taste give back to the models. While he creates in the present.

Halal Wood is an oriental sound movie, I strongly can recommend."

Inside World Music

Sunday, May 17, 2009
CD Review: The Beats of 'Halalwood'


The funky, electronic beats and ethnic infusions of U-cef's Moroccan homeland creates a truly modern form of musical expression. Ten tracks and dozens of musicians from the UK, Morocco, France, Egypt, and Tunisia accompany and comprise the album's musical backbone. The innovative electronic beats and vocals by Natacha Atlas (Egypt), Rachid Taha (Algeria), and others, create something engaging and classic. There is a fine balance between rai, rap, spoken-word, electronica, gnawa, and Arabic trance music throughout all of the tracks. Halalwood is bound to draw in younger crowds, because of its close association with Western beats and arrangments. It's easy to use the term 'fusion' for U-cef's music. In essence, U-cef's vision for the music is very clearly and intelligently defined. Halalwood not only contains sporadic female vocals, hip beats, and male vocals, but it also embraces a new musical and cultural movement, as Hollywood and Bollywood have done before. This is contemporary Moroccan music for the world to enjoy! ~ Matthew Forss
Posted by Matthew Forss at 2:24 PM

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Many would say that a little world fusion goes a long way. But not in the case of nomadic Moroccan musician U- Cef. Back in 2000, he created what now sounds like one of the defining pieces of world fusion with his digital/electronica celebration of Moroccan music, Halalium, shimmering kaleidoscopically with its myriad influences and samples: it drew on Andalusian music, drum’n’bass, Charles Mingus, Gnawa riffing, ragga and the haunting B’net Houriyat chorus. Unsurprisingly, it profoundly influenced the rising generation of Moroccan musicians.
With this second album, his debut on Brussels’ visionary Crammed Discs label, he has produced a different kind of masterpiece – a more tranced-out, dance floor friendly set, with less high-concept electronica than its predecessor. Over the last seven years, U-Cef has spent much more time in Morocco, DJing and playing music, and every pore of every track is aglow with those influences. Check the torrents of qanun and nay, the Gnawa inflections in the polyrhythms of ‘Mo’Rock’n’Roll’ or the traditional rhythms of ‘Hilal’; or the overall trance-like use of repetitive vocal patterns which Moroccanise even the ingeniously used batucada rhythm of ‘MarhaBahia’; or the ragga of ‘Hamdou’llah’. And finally, consider the risky double whammy that he pulls off so brilliantly: creating not just a new version of world fusion but adding a sprinkling of collaborations with guest star luminaries like Damon Albarn, Rachid Taha and Justin Adams, without diluting the force of the album. In fact, all of his guests rise to the challenge and exceed expectations. A dazzling tour de force.
Max Reinhardt

Halalwood - U-Cef Album Review
Album Review
Damn U-Sef!! You have made a rather engaging album here - North African beats with trad and modern raps and vocals. The first track is utterly stunning - throbbing bassline and speaker-popping breaks. Moroccan Hip-Hop anyone? This is exactly what fusion should be about - a talent worth selling your house for, a line-up of guests stuffed with imagination and a sound boom enough to sink a jug of beer to. The whole album rumbles like an avalanche and delivers sharper than a postman with a samurai. Track 5, "Hamdou'llah", is the sound of packed clubs in the niche districts in Brussels, Paris and Morocco - a total banger. Blimey, track 6 just goes beyond what whistles should be used for - "MarhaBahia" blends Brazilian and African flavours as though Remmy Ongala met Bahia Black in a side-street in Shoreditch.
It's a street market of styles and it works. Try and pick this lovely album up - if you know how great Crammed can be then you know you should get this and play it when the weather is poor but the beer is good.
Paul Pledger.

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