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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Akim El Sikameya

By Tom Jackson
Published October 23, 2008

World Music Network

Akim El Sikameya is a man. It's just that, on most of the tracks on this collection, he pitches his voice at such a high register that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a woman singing. That's not so unusual in Algerian music: think of the fabulously feminine lyricism of Cheb Mami's voice or Faudel's boyish tones. More important than the pitch is the fact that his voice swings. The singer from Oran peddles an array of intoxicating Andalusi-Algerian sunshine melodies propelled by World Music stalwart Philippe Eidel's accordion and his own violin. It's a smooth sound, all played live, and with a celebratory gusto. The Introducing... collection is El Sikameya's third album and he is already a festival favorite, with a hit in the shape of the award winning "Ya Waadi," a song of exile referencing the Algerian civil war and contrasting the bloodshed with the high points of Al Andalusi civilization.