Review of Speed Caravan's album Kalashnik Love
Mehdi Haddab is the main man behind Speed Caravan. A renowned virtuoso oud player and his acclaimed previous dance projects certainly give him a respect for innovation. Now working as Speed Caravan, Mehdi is joined by bassist Pascal Teillet, former Ekova electronic beat mistress Hermione Frank, and Mohamed Bouamar on percussion and vocals. The oud has always traditionally been seen as a classical instrument however Mehdi is bringing this into another realm with the 'electric oud'.
As soon as the first track 'Taq On The Beat' came on I got really excited as originating from Egypt I've always believed the fusion between Arab and Western music is the way forward. Bands like Led Zeppelin saw the value in this fusion and experimented with success. However 'Kalashnik Love' doesn't quite hit it for me. Don't get me wrong people who have never heard the sound of the oud or Arabic rhythms will be intrigued and might even like it. This album certainly is accessible and there's even a few covers, from the crazy version of 'Killing An Arab' by The Cure and 'Galvanize' by the Chemical Brothers that has a nice added touch of vocals from Asian Dub Foundation.
There's no denying Speed Caravan are trying things with 'Kalashnik Love' and full credit to that but maybe there's too much fusion going on for me. I'm not feeling most of the vocals, some of the heavy oud seems unnecessary and the psychedelic experimentation sounds a bit too indulgent.
Unfortunately no matter how hard I want to really like this project I can't help feeling Blackadder has gone on a crusade to Morocco on acid. Sounds wrong to me however this is a bit harsh as there are some good moments. Kalashnik Love is a good start but this fusion could sound so much better.