Ty Burr
August 09, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Moorish Music From Mauritania

Current Status
In Season

We gave it an A+

The first modern recording of music from the desert republic of Mauritania, Moorish Music is as beautiful and hallucinatory as a Sahara mirage. Both Khalifa Ould Eide and Dimi Mint Abba are descended from generations of court musicians, and each fills a traditional role in which the male singer (Eide) plays lute and the woman singer (Abba) contributes roiling percussion. But these two are also modernizers: The lyrics go beyond the usual Arab love poems to include an ode to Nelson Mandela (”Oh Lord Bring Apartheid Crashing Down!”), and when Eide straps on an electric guitar for ”Art’s Plume,” you may find the hairs on your neck standing up. Soaring above it all is Dimi Mint Abba’s singing — so spooky, elastic, and ageless as to make distinctions between tradition and modernity seem petty. Quite simply, she’s one of the world’s great voices. A+

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