Saturday 1 December 2018, 7.30pm

Photo by Sia Rosenberg

AMMAR 808

Deep TR-808 bass meets pan-Maghreb beats, timeless voices and futurist visions. AMMAR 808 is Sofyann Ben Youssef, the sonic mastermind behind the Tunisian sensation: Bargou 08.

The future is right now. We have driverless cars, robots taking over jobs, and commercial space travel is on the event horizon. Somehow, humanity has slipped into a science fiction life. But you can’t have a future without a past, something AMMAR 808 knows very well. On his debut release, Maghreb United, featuring the singers Mehdi Nassouli (Morocco), Sofiane Saidi (Algeria) and Cheb Hassen Tej (Tunisia), he connects the two to offer a radical, electronic reinvention of ancient North African music.

The deep, rumbling growl of the gumbri, the dry, airy tenderness of the gasba, and the softly slithering zokra give a powerful North African root to the music, a thread that spins back through centuries. And the singers burn with fire and grace and passion on lyrics like ‘Tonight our happiness will be complete/Tonight our energy will be complete’ (Layli). But it’s the TR-808 that’s at the heart of Maghreb United and sends it spiraling into the future.

“This is a full-tilt affair, with rumbling basslines matched against exuberant vocals from Nassouli and two Moroccan backing singers on the frantic Layli, and wailing bagpipes backed by relentless percussion on Tej’s Alech Taaadini. I look forward to hearing them live.” – The Guardian