Art by Harry Gassel and Eric Hu.
Parisian pair Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho, better known to most of us as Acid Arab, started working together in 2012. Having met with, and been inspired by, countless artists from the Middle East and North Africa, the duo decided to work towards creating a space in which Arab culture met contemporary dance music without reverting to Orientalist cliche or trite—and ultimately damaging—dabbling.
A series of remixes and collaborations were collated on Collections, which arrived on Versatile in 2013. Since then, Minsky and Carvalho have recruited a group of guest musicians to bolster the squad, and the result is the forthcoming debut LP, Musique de France (out October 7 on Crammed Discs), one of the year's most intriguing and engaging releases. The album is their response to the Paris that exists out there in reality, removed from the picture postcard prettiness of the Louvre. This is the Paris where Radio Nova has been broadcasting Arabic music for over thirty years, where Arabic popstars have become country-wide obsessions. For the duo, the importance of Arabic influence on French culture, and French society cannot be overstated.
As they put it, referring to Musique de France, "It's not a collage, not an appropriation, not even a "fusion." It originates from encounters on equal terms between different worlds. Between instruments, rhythms, melodic modes, musical technologies...and people."
All of which goes some way to explaining why their entry in our mix series is such an enthralling listen. Featuring exclusives from the likes of Alessandro Adriani, All Done, Kesarine, Mehmet Aslan, Yan Wagner and Acid Arab themselves, what we have here is an scintillating hour of music that straddles borders, and circumnavigates cultural differences. This is Acid Arab.
THUMP: How are we meant to enjoy the mix?
Acid Arab: With tea, headphones on, on a dancefloor, while having sex, on drugs. Or with your family at christmas.
What's the perfect setting?
Just like when we recorded it: on a beach, at sunset, with dancers of all ages.
Where did you record it?
Was there any specific concept to the mix?
Mixing tracks according to their BPM, within the concept of "all kind of electronic Arabic music."
If the original concept of the project was to "create a space for Arab culture in the world of contemporary electronic music," do you think you've been successful?
We don't believe in success.
Thinking about France particularly, how much crossover is there of Arab culture into the mainstream? What, if any, overlap is there?
Arab culture is everywhere. Arabs have built half of everything people live in in France, introduced great dishes the French love, and offered us a lot of amazing words we use every day.
What's your new album trying to do, and how is it trying to do it?
To solve the equation Acid Arab + Musique de France. Hopefully we will know the answer from the media and our audience.
Acid Arab's debut album Musique de France is out on October 7th via Crammed Discs.