Of wood and skins, of strings and vibrations.

Between pinches and strokes pass the shivers of the oud and the percussions in fusion!


Driss El Maloumi wanted this encounter to be a certain promiscuity, an intimacy that should lead to openness and freedom. 

Knowing that a man, like a culture, is never made of only one essence, the musician gathered several woods, several tense skins, several sounds, several colors. 

In the center: the oud, "the wood" in Arabic (al-ud); at its side percussions of various origins. The musician is made of his heritage, his tradition, but also of his learning through transmission. It is in him like the heart in the center of the tree, the first essence. The one that cannot be denied, that gives the perfume its first fragrance, the one that frames the branch and will shape the genealogy. But the musician is also made of successive strata, like these rings of the tree which roll up one on the other over the years, giving him his age over the soul. 

These layers are superimposed, protecting the heart while turning outwards, protected in turn by the sapwood first, then the bark. The visible side, the fragility, the side that absorbs, that rubs against the others, and vice versa. The bark receives the softness of the breezes and the fury of the bad weather, it sees the days melting under the seasons. 

It takes the marks of time, which itself is translated internally by the beating of the heart. 

Driss El Maloumi knows that he is made of this heritage and this permeability. He loves tradition, its structure, its strength, its dignity. But he needs to let his oud satisfy his greed. This need to go and see if he can also vibrate outside the imprints of the tradition. This desire to know how he will react to the contact of an Iranian zarb or a percussion from Madagascar. 

Can he find the freedom to let go while respecting just as greedily what has been transmitted to him, but giving free rein to the possibilities of exchanges and adventures. Adventures already rich on the paths taken by Driss El Maloumi with Jordi Savall, with 3MA (Ballaké Sissoko and Rajery), with Paolo Fresu, Armand Amar, Debashish Bhattacharya, Montserrat Figueiras ... 

The knowledge he has accumulated in his practice of the oud has allowed him to get involved in these encounters. Today, he wishes to bring back all the spices gleaned from these magnificent experiences and see how the oud will diffuse them in trio with the help of percussions. All while respecting a notion of space. 

The album was recorded in Agadir because it is the place of Driss, the place of his childhood, his daily life, his colors and his influences. It is here that he feels himself to be at an essential crossroads between Arab, Amazigh, Western and Sub-Saharan cultures. In this part of Morocco, Driss El Maloumi has shaped his life as a musician, he has drawn up his rhythmic patterns, he has understood different languages, he has sensed universes that are just waiting to be heard. He received and felt ready to give. 

It is in Agadir that different spaces are associated because he has lived them physically, historically, deeply. Everything transpired there in music. And everything that makes a tree or a man is in place, from the bones to the ramifications, from the roots to the trunk, from the heart to the bark, from the colors to the perfumes of life, from the encounters to the seasons. 

To translate it into music, one must dare to put down the certainties of what one has received, to step back, to go outside oneself to rub shoulders with other essences. Then return to one's personal heritage, cherish it and allow it to take flight over prejudices, beyond prohibitions. And to give tradition what it needs to feed itself so that it never forgets its greed. To prevent it from drying up in its obligatory structures. 

Driss El Maloumi has been making this journey wonderfully for a long time. And he invites us, once again, to make it with him. In a quite personal project that he takes the time to sow between the thousand activities that call him throughout his beautiful career. He comes back to his music, the time of this record, the time to see which language his oud speaks at the moment, which dialects he is able to approach. 

In simplicity, as his friend and colleague Jordi Savall taught him. But in the commitment that is that of a man who has responsibilities as a musician but also as director of the Conservatory of Agadir. A man who wants music, even thousand-year-old traditions, to evolve serenely outside the fundamentalist discourse of those who prefer to lock these traditional expressions into shackles. This is a process that is never easy because it is necessary to know the place that each of the external influences can take in its meeting with the traditional knowledge. 

Once again, Driss El Maloumi proves to us that it is possible to widen the field of expression of an instrument without falling into useless demonstration. And his companions, Lahoucine Baquir and Saïd El Maloumi, as well as the singer Kalima, sister of Driss and Saïd, have also understood this by giving us a work that is above all deeply human and musical. 

Etienne Bours