Having dropped the "DJ" from his name on this record (he still goes by "DJ" when spinning records at his San Francisco club residency) is no small bit of symbolism for Cheb i Sabbah. La Kahena finds him moving away from the tablatronics his early records were built upon and moving into a more organic, vocal-centric style that draws deeply from Moroccan influences, a move which isn't all that surprising, considering his Algerian roots. On La Kahena, Sabbah utilizes the same deeply respectful approach to "modernity" that made his Krishna Lila album so engaging; skilled musicians and singers cut their tracks live, and Sabbah using his technological savvy blended those tracks with his understated electronica to arrive at a remarkably fresh sound. It's an absolutely untraditional foray into some very traditional-sounding music.
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