Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Oujda-Casablanca Introspections, Vol. 1 [Barbarity, 1994]
With Oran's chebs and chabas repressed, depressed, or scared away by the fundamentalists, superproducer Ben Omar Rachid took to prospecting just over the Moroccan border in Oujda and finally far west in Casablanca. His first export is these eight 1988-to-1993 singles, which sound from here like the rawest, most arresting rai compilation ever. Mixing old and new with a fine disregard for anybody's verities, the Berber-Gnawa-Shabi admixtures are lighter sonically and quirkier culturally, with male-female interplay a convention and the battle-of-Algiers ululations a surefire attention getter. A-