Rachid Taha’s music resists pigeonholing. His new album, Bonjour, straddles “a rock sound, with a country influence” and “Arabic music”.
He is preoccupied with notions of tolerance, particularly in the title track and “Mabrouk Aalik”, a song about relations between Jews and Muslims.
Taha told me, “I have a nostalgic side that remembers a time when Jews and Arabs – or rather Jews and Muslims because there are Arab Jews – were together. So I’m asking how did we get in this situation?”
The album features Gaetan Roussel, of the band Louise Attaque, part of a younger generation of French musicians that blends folk with an indie rock sound.
Taha is often classified as “world music”. One musician with experience of the genre is David Byrne, once of the Talking Heads.
Byrne feels that such a bland, all-encompassing term as “world music” asserts the predominance of Western pop culture by labelling other musical forms exotic or cute.
Taha’s eclectic, inter-generational sound with its punk influence avoids such complacent labels.
CD released 26 October