Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hassan Hakmoun

  • Unity [Healing, 2014] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Unity [Healing, 2014]
Born into a family of Gnawa musicians in Marrakech in 1963, Hakmoun wasn't yet 25 when he settled Stateside, where his adaptable three-string sintir soon made him bassy North African aide-de-camp to Don Cherry and thence Peter Gabriel. Through Gabriel, he released several showbizzy mid-'90s CDs, but on his first album since 2002, the resounding steady-state propulsion of the opening "Zidokan" soon had me wondering whether I'd judged too quickly. Over 12 longish tracks, Hakmoun beefs up his trad axes and hoarse humanitarian imprecations with plenty of "rock" guitar, trap drums, percussion add-ons, and electronics, and for 70 minutes his fusion never stops moving long enough for your schlock anxiety kick in. Nor does the fact that "Zidokan" is slower than most diminish its propulsion a thrum. A-