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Ahmed Malek was one of the most important musicians of the Algerian scene of the 1970s. His soundtrack works that were composed for various Algerian movies of the time fuse Arabic influences with jazz, psych and funk influences. Dark cineastic soundscapes meet african Jazz at times reminiscent of Mulatu. Original copies of his vinyl releases have been sold for enormous amounts. For this release we combined the strongest tracks from his releases with a selection of unreleased material straight from the families archive. Introduction: I still remember the first time I heard Ahmed Malek. It was 2012. Back then I didn’t know much about Arabic music, but I was about to leave Berlin for a couple of weeks to go to Tunisia. I was working as a project manager for a music recoding session which ended up being released by Jakarta Records as the “Sawtuha” release. I knew I would have some time off during my stay and I was certain that I would dedicate some of this time to diggin. I asked some people whether they knew of any titles that I should look for. Roskow, who also ended up re-mastering this release, told me about an Algerian composer called Ahmed Malek whose music was also released in Tunisia. Fast forward three years: Arabic records have become my number one hobby and luckily I got my hands on a copy of Ahmed Malek’s “Musique Originale De Films” album. I already knew some of the tracks but listening to the music the way it was originally released, and not as a crappy Youtube version, made me fall in love with Malek’s compositions all the more. It manages to create this very special mood: melancholic and reflective, emotional and touching, but never depressing. Even without having seen any of the pictures created for this, it immediately brings visuals to one’s imagination. Around that time I became captivated with the idea of reissuing some of Ahmed Malek’s music. I knew some people had tried to locate his family but, but with no success. In the end it was an incredible amount of luck that made it possible for you to read these words and listen to this record. I had a DJ gig in Beirut playing old Arabic records and I mentioned my passion for Ahmed Malek’s music to a friend. She said she knew one person in Algier, and as much as it would be a shot in the dark, she could ask her if she had an idea of how to find Malek’s family. Two weeks went by before I heard back, and what I got was incredibly good news. Her Algerian friend was the neighbor of Ahmed Malek’s daughter! I’m not a spiritual person, but it felt like the universe wanted to see this release happen.
Follow up to releases from Fadoul, Ahmed Malek and Dalton on Jakarta Records' sublabel Habibi Funk. Rare Tunisian Disco Including Unreleased Instrumentals, comes with 8 page booklet and download-coupon! When we first decided to start Habibi Funk, a label dedicated to re-releasing „funky" Arabic music from the 1960s to 1980s, a band called Dalton was the first release we worked on. Dalton was a band from the Tunisian capital of Tunis and they played a unique mix of soul & funk with an Arabic DNA. We licensed the release from the band’s composer Fawzi Chekili, and when we spoke to him on the phone in preparation of the release he mentioned another band he was part of, called Carthago. Our work with Habibi Funk is like a big treasure hunt. There are too many great bands that fully vanished into obscurity and didn’t leave any traces in the digital sphere yet. We are so used to the internet providing all informations we might be looking for, but Carthago was one of those bands where the internet largely failed to provide any infos despite the fact that Carthago created some incredible music in the form of an highly infectious Tunisian take on disco music. Luckily most of the members of the 1970s musical scene of Tunis are still around to tell their story. Carthago was founded in the late 1970s as a fusion of Dalton and a second band called Marhaba Band. Both bands frequently played at hotels and night clubs in Tunis and Sousse. They had similar musical influences and despite the fact that they were competition for the most part, they came up with the idea to join forces for a new band. Musically Carthago kept on walking on the musical path of Dalton and Marhaba but incorporated disco music, a new style that was making its way to North Africa from Europe and North America. The band had quite some success on local radio and played a number of big shows with thousands of people showing up. The band’s concerts were a mixture of their own compositions as well as cover versions of the hits of the time from Stevie Wonder to Chicago. At the end of the 70s they went to Paris to record their only, self titled album. For our reissue we picked out two of our favorite tracks: „Hanen“ and the outstanding disco version of the Dalton track „Alech“ which has proved to work on every dance floor we played over the last two years. When I came to Tunis for the first time after the Dalton reissue I met Fawzi in person. He still lives in Tunis and still works as a full time musician though his focus has shifted more towards Jazz over the years. Luckily he did not only keep a spotless copy of the Carthago album but he also kept the master tape of the instrumental versions of the album which to this day were unreleased. Being able to add exclusive content to a reissue is something that is rare and we feel highly privileged to be able to do so. Futher more we are so happy that we will be able to add something new to the bands legacy not only musically but also visually: One day I realized that most of the releases from Tunisia I liked, be it from Dalton, Carthago or Marhaba Band had the same photographer credit. Hassen Turki started taking photos at a young age and when he was 18 he started going to the gigs of the bands of the time that were playing in the Marhaba Hotel which was managed by his father at the time. He became friends with the bands and ended up being the person to be asked when it came to shooting the photos for the covers of the records. After some research I managed to get in touch with Hassen and met him in his hometown Sousse. Luckily he kept most of the negatives of the photos he took so we’re more than happy to be able to share these unseen photos with whoever is interested.
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8 tracks of raw Arabic funk music, none of these have ever been reissued before. So far Fadoul (or Fadaul, or Faddoul, the transcribtion of his name to latin letters differs)& his music had not been rediscovered, as a matter of fact most of those songs still left no trace whatsoever in the world wide web. It took us 2 years and countless trips to Morocco to find the artists family to license the release from them. Vinyl and CD edition come with liner notes, unseen live photos and lyrics translations. “There was one record in particular that caught my attention. It was by a band called "Fadaul et les Privileges“ and mentioned James Brown in the writing credits of the song "Sid Redad“ on the a-side. Needless to say my expectations were high. The first time I heard the record I was blown away. A cover of James Brown’s "Papa got a brand new bag“ sung in arabic and backed by a rawly recorded three piece band. It’s hard to describe the music without having listened to it, but as time went by I somehow ended up summarizing it as Arabic funk played with a punk attitude. A description, that I feel, comes fairly close. Soon I became obsessed by the record but nobody seemed to know anything about the vinyl or the artists, even google didn’t help. A true gem forgotten about through the passages of time. I kept on traveling to Morocco trying to find infos about the artists, which did not end up being fruitful during the first couple of trips. What kept me going was the fact that over the course of the next years I kept on finding different records by Fadoul, in the end a total of four. They all had the raw sound aesthetic of "Sid Redad“. Energetic performances, a mighty voice and a very lively atmosphere that was preserved in the recordings.” “Sid Redad” has gotten plays on BBC, Radio Nova and more, our Habibi Funk mixes have been featured by The Guardian, Radio Nova, Waxpoetics, okayplayer.com, konbini.fr and many more.
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